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.
- Tailor your message for a perfect fit
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.
Speakers who inspire or persuade often aim to motivate their audiences to action. The call to action articulated by speakers could be for listeners to vote a certain way, change a negative behavior, join a group, try a new type of food, or even to have a new outlook on life.
Often, however, in their zeal to encourage their audiences, speakers sometimes forget one important communicative step. Tell the audience how.
After listening to a motivational or persuasive speaker, I am usually on board with their positive message. But sometimes, I find I have been given no tangible steps to take toward getting to the goal! Persuade me to become a member of Toastmasters? Pass out membership applications and tell when where and when the meetings are. Motivate me to be more organized? Tell me how to set up an electronic filing system, or closet cubbies for my handbags.
When speaking to persuade or motivate, giving your audience an action “how” step will keep them engaged and more receptive to your message, helping to make you a more effective public speaker.
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