I had an opportunity to attend the IEEE USA annual meeting which was held in Portland, Oregon this year. I was there because I was going to be receiving an award. Now I always like to receive awards; however, just before I left to travel to Portland I got an email that explained the details of the award ceremony. This is when I found out that I would have 25 seconds in which to make any comments after I received the award. Oh, oh – just exactly what does a 25 second speech look like?
The Challenge Of Deciding What To Say?
Ok, so I’ll be the first to admit that being given just 25 seconds to give a speech is quite short. However, we all understand the importance of public speaking and it’s the poor speaker who turns down any opportunity, no matter how short it is! From the start, my goal was to make the most of the time that I had been given.
What I wanted to do with my small window of time was to use it to grab my audience’s attention. As a secondary goal, I wanted to give them a speech that they would still be talking about the next day. Quite the tall order for such a short speech.
In looking at my options, I decided that I was going to have to use humor to accomplish both of my goals. There were other ways to do what I wanted, but I didn’t think that I’d be able to accomplish them in such a short time.
Creating And Delivering The Speech
Having decided what kind of speech I wanted to give (and because I was starting to run out of time) I sat down and started to sketch out what I wanted to say. I quickly ran into problems. My speech was going to occur in the middle of an awards banquet – the audience would not already be laughing. I was going to have to warm them up and then get them to laugh all in 25 seconds.
This is when I had a great idea: use a poem. Everyone would recognize a poem when they heard it and it would be different enough from everything else that they had been hearing that they would understand that something new was happening.
In the end I kept it very simple – I made every line of the poem rhyme with the previous line. It’s a lousy poem, but that didn’t matter – my audience got the joke. In order for the poem to work, it had to be delivered with the right set up and then a lot of pauses had to be used during the actual reading of the poem.
The good news for you is that I was able to record my delivery of my 25 second speech. Here it is and you can be the judge of whether or not I was able to accomplish my goal…
What All Of This Means For You
As speakers we don’t always control how much time we’ll have to give our speech. What this means is that not only do we need to be ready to adjust how long our speech will run, we also have to be ready when there is very little time left for us to give a speech.
Even when time is short, we still need to be able to design a good speech in order to be able to share the benefits of public speaking with our audience. What this means is that we need to have the ability to understand who our audience is and craft a speech that will maximize the time that we have been given.
I hope that you’ll never find yourself in a situation where you’ll have less than half of a minute in which to give a speech. However, no matter how much time you find that you’ve been given, take these tips and use them to create a speech that will fill your time with ideas that will be remembered long after your short time is over.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™
Question For You: When time is short, do you think that you should state your main point more than once?
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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Not every speech is the same. In fact, every speech that we give is different from all of the speeches that came before it. However, each of our speeches will fall into one of four different categories: instruction, demonstration, motivational, or humorous. When you have an idea that you want your audience to support, it’s time to get out the demonstration speech. This is a great time to show off the importance of public speaking. Let’s talk about how best to do this…
What Is A Demonstration Speech?
There you are, you’ve got an idea or a position that you truly believe in. There is your audience. They don’t all believe in or support your idea. Now what’s a speaker to do?