Never Be Lonely Again: How To Include Your Audience In Your Speech

by drjim on April 6, 2010

Friends Don’t Let Friends Speak All Alone

Friends Don’t Let Friends Speak All Alone

Why Does Giving A Speech Have To Be So Lonely?

Let’s face it – anyone can give a speech. However, not anyone can give a good speech. It sure seems as though if you’re going to go to all of the effort of preparing and delivering a speech, you sure would like to do a good job of it. That means that you’re going to have to find a way to really connect with your audience. Guess what – it turns out that this is actually pretty easy to do. The trick is that you have to start to use more “people words” when you speak…

It’s All About How You Say Things

Once you understand what I’m talking about this is going to be a simple concept – it’s just that it may be a bit difficult for me to explain. Let’s start our discussion by thinking back to the last time that you sat down to create a speech. I’m sure that what was front and center in your mind as you wrote your speech was the point that you were trying to make by giving the speech. There’s no problem with this.

Where we run into problems is when you sit back and take a look at the speech that you’ve written: I’m willing to bet you that it’s pretty cold and impersonal. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve probably did a great job of getting your main point across; however, it’s not going to be an effective speech because you’re not going to be able to connect with your audience.

The way to fix this problem of great speech / lousy connection is to go back and plug in more “people words” . These types of words are very clear references to human beings just like you, me, and your audience. The more of these types of words that you can include in your speech, the warmer your speech will appear and the easier it will be to connect with your listeners. Oprah does this all the time.

Kevin Johnston and Tennille-Lynn Millo are writers who use this technique in their work. The most effect technique that they’ve found to use is to start to ask the question “who” when you are reviewing your speech. What you will be trying to do is to replace the impersonal “the sales department” with “Mike and the rest of the team in the Sales department”. See how much warmer that is?

The Problem With Statistics

I can already see some of you rolling your eyes – look Dr. Jim, my speech is filled with facts and stats – there’s nothing warm and personal about it. Well, you’ve got a point there but never say never. Even this type of speech can be warmed up with some more people words.

Take an ugly stat: about two thirds of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. Ouch, but who cares – that’s cold and impersonal. How could you warm this one up? Simple, say something like “If you and your two best friends were in the room with us today, statistics say that that at least two of you would be either overweight or obese”. Much better!

Does Anyone Have A Body?

One of the reasons that so many speeches fail to connect with their audience is because what’s being discussed is not human – and so your audience tunes the discussion out. If you take the time to apply human words to non-human things you’ll be able to get your audience’s attention back.

The classic phrase “take a bite out of crime” is known by everyone. You can apply the same technique by saying “we’ve got to kick the competition” or “we want to stop crawling towards our goals and get up and start to run.”

It’s Name Time

The final way to warm your speech up and make a better connection with your audience may be the simplest of them all: start name dropping. When you are looking over your speech, search for places where you reference a position or a role and instead of saying “the company’s treasurer”, replace it with “Tom, the company’s treasurer”.

If you want to take this up a notch even more, if you can insert names of people who are in your audience you’ll score even more points with them. This is one of the reasons that the great speakers show up early for a speech and chat with the audience – they are collecting names to use later on in their speech.

What All Of This Means For You

It’s all too easy to write a cold and impersonal speech. It might do a good job of discussing our main topic; however, it’s going to be a waste of your time to deliver it if you can’t connect with your audience.

Taking the time to review the speech that you’ve written and working in “people words” will provide you with the opportunity to warm your speech up. Every speech can benefit from this kind of attention including speeches that have lots of statistics.

The more names that you can use in your speech, the more of a connection you’ll be able to establish with your audience. If you can work the names of actual audience members into your speech, then you will be well on your way to becoming a great speaker…

Question For You: Do you think that it would be possible to make a speech too warm – should some speeches not connect with an audience by design?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I don’t know about you, but more and more I’ve been finding myself being asked to deliver speeches that have technical information in them. I’ve got a great deal of self confidence; however, having had to sit through more than my share of boring technical presentations this is the one type of speech that scares me the most. There’s got to be a better way…

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