When I Ordered You – The Story Behind the Book
July 19, 2017
World Down Syndrome Day
July 19, 2017

The Value of a Speech

As I sit through yet another graduation this month, I realize that some people are mystified when it comes to the mechanics of a good speech. Sure, they may have heard a few good speeches in their life but understanding what it takes to create a good or a great speech seems to baffle them. Giving a speech is not simply getting up and telling people your opinion or your thoughts.  It takes planning and thought as well as a strategy to create value. Here are the top 5 tips to create a memorable speech, one remembered for the good qualities not the bad.
Have a Purpose
All speeches should have a purpose.  That purpose should NOT be to fill time and space allotted for the speech, nor should it be to tell the audience about all the things you love, like the hat you purchased at a Black Friday Sale. Yes, believe it or not, that was a true example from this past weekend. If you do use an analogy,  make sure your audience understands the relationship to the other content and the story within your speech.
Connect and Relate
What will interest your audience, to what can they relate? In order for people to receive your message, they need to be able to relate to you and connect to your message.  Try to determine how your audience will be able to connect to what you have to say. Can you tell a story of life, family relations or shared embarrassment?  If you are speaking at a commencement ceremony, find a topic that everyone there can understand such as helping a student survive the emotional ups and downs of college life, the cost of college, the joy at completion, or the next chapter.  Allow your audience to see the real you; the more real you are, the more  will relate to what you have to say.
Have a Point
What do you want your audience to learn, to feel, to see as the result of your speech?  What is the point you are trying to get across? Your speech should inform, educate of persuade, build compassion or empathy or simply entertain.  Know what you want to accomplish.  Know how you want your audience to react and work to illicit that reaction.
Use Vocal Variety
There is a debate among scholars about the percentages of communication but one popular study states that our message consist of 7%  words, 38% vocal variety (tone) and 55%  body language. If you stand behind a podium on a large stage, your body language can easily be obscured so you must depend on your vocal variety to help transmit your message.
Vocal Variety consists of:
Pitch – the range of high and low notes.  When the pitch range is small, the voice effect is monotonous.
Tone – emotional content carried by the voice.  How your emotions fill and energize your words.
Speed – how fast or slow you deliver your words and thoughts.
Cadence – modulation and inflection; the rhythmic flow.
In order to have appropriate vocal variety, your voice must be used much like a musical instrument.  It must express your message and emotions. Without this vocal variety you message will likely fall flat.
Add Passion and Value
If you do not have an interest in your subject, neither will your audience.  Before determining what you will speak about, determine what you care about, what you want to share, what you are passionate about. Your audience will respond much more positively to a topic that is important to you.
Give your audience something they can use: a tip, a technique, a story that helps illustrate your point.  Offer a unique perspective, one that creates new thoughts. Or ideas.  Offer a word of encouragement.   Value your audience.  Leave them with a message, an action, or a charge. Your message should empower and uplift even when speaking on a difficult topic.
In Conclusion
A speech is not a moment in time to be filled, nor should it be seen as an obligation.  A speech is an opportunity to help others see a new world, open their eyes, or open their hearts.  The opportunity should be appreciated and treasured. The opportunity to stand in front of others and add value to the world should be cherished not wasted.