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3 Words of Wisdom That Can Make All the Difference for Public Speakers

 

By Claudia W. Brogan

Do you ever find yourself recalling words of wisdom that have been passed along to you from your mentors and role models? Sometimes, lessons were conveyed to you by modeling the techniques and methods, while other times the “moral of the story” was conveyed as lessons your mentor had learned and passed along to you. In a true sense, each of these wise words adds to your toolkit and can bring inspiration and fresh ideas whenever you need reminders.

For me, I learned three wise words from one of my most excellent mentors, my Speech Class teacher in high school in a small town in central Illinois. She taught us with patience, creativity, and gusto. I still remember the day she asked our class, “What do you think are the three most important words for public speakers?”

We made fair guesses: “Tell relatable stories” and “Choose funny titles” and “Stay on topic” and “Give specific examples” and “Call to action.” But she smiled enigmatically through all that.

When we had finally worn ourselves out with guesses for good advice phrases, she told us, “Keep in mind these three words in each part of your speech delivery: Consider Your Audience.”

She went on to explain that these three words can be a guide in each phase of preparing for, delivering, and even evaluating a speech.

When selecting the topic and scope of the speech, ask yourself, “What does my audience know about this topic? What would they like to know about this?”

When writing the outline and the sequencing of topics for the speech, remember to consider your audience, frame the speech through the experience of your audience: What is a logical flow that is easy for them to follow? How often will the audience need an anecdote or illustration to help keep the topic vibrant and relatable?

When delivering your speech, consider your audience as a guide for your presentation. Make sure that volume, pitch, and speed of the speech can be enjoyed from front and back of the room, that the highs and lows of your speaking voice are pleasant, and that the pace of the speech adds variety but not feel hurrying.

Take that three-word guide “Consider your audience” into account also when designing the physical delivery of your speech:

  • Will intentional gestures add emphasis to your key points?
  • Can movement around the speaking area capture the attention of your listeners to help keep them engaged?
  • Are you providing eye contact to each listener when delivering your speech?

Finally, when doing a self-evaluation of your speech afterwards, reflect on the presentation from the sights and sounds of your audience members:

  • How did this speech succeed in my objectives of informing, amusing, or connecting personally with my audience?
  • From the angle ofmy listeners, how did my preparation and delivery set the stage well for this delivery?
  • How was the humor level, or the choice of stories and illustrations?

If we as speakers pay close attention to our mentors and role models, we are bound to benefit from their words of wisdom. Reflecting back to the early inspiration from my high school Speech teacher, Mrs. Donna Witmer, I am a much more effective public speaker when I remember her great words “Consider your audience.”

 

Claudia Brogan is a speaker, trainer and facilitator who helps organizations by coaching presenters, leading collaborative meetings and problem-solving with groups and teams. Reach out to see how she can help you. Contact Claudia via email at claudiabrogan @ gmail.com, through LinkedIn, or by phone at 404-849-5182.

 

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