Recently, a colleague was asked to be the keynote speaker at a local civic organization’s dinner dance. He convinced himself that he was going to deliver the speech to top all speeches: He would use the podium to address political and economic disparities, and call the audience to join him in reinventing the Social Compact.
Ten minutes into his speech however, the audience, who had just finished eating dinner, had grown bored. The speech was just too heavy for the occasion. At one point, twenty minutes into the speech, a very well dressed audience member walked up to the podium and slipped the keynote speaker a note that read, “Please finish now. We are bored. This is too much for us.”
The keynote speaker abruptly ended his speech, the audience applauded, and the night’s festivities continued.
The takeaway: Don’t be an inappropriate public speaker. Be mindful of your audience and the occasion at which you will speak. A speech written to address the United Nations General Assembly will be out-of-place at a local awards dinner. Tailor your message to your audience and it will always be a great fit.