Write your speech with 5 points

How much you write depends on how long you’ve got to speak. I allow 50 to 60 words a minute; speak for 10 minutes and you’ll need 500 to 600 words spoken at a normal pace. One problem of being nervous is that you’ll speak quicker and risk ending before your time; but enough rehearsal should avoid this. If you are going over time, edit as you are speaking – not so difficult if your notes are keywords rather than full sentences. Do not try and speak faster as you will sound very odd.

When writing a speech, I use 5 points: Attention, Interest, Desire, Commitment, Action. 

ATTENTION: This is the title of your speech and must attract attention. “Astrology and how planetary aspects may affect the daily lives of individuals” may be an accurate description of what you are to talk about, but it is very dull. “Astrology – what’s in the future for you?” is more likely to bring them in.

INTEREST: If you are not interesting, your audience will be bored and show it. Unless you are speaking to an academic or technical audience, entertainment is more important than a list of facts. Try and find out about your audience in advance and pitch your speech accordingly.

If you are speaking for a social event, Attention and Interest are all you should need. If you are speaking to convince – support this, join that – you will need the last 3 points: Desire, Commitment and Action.

DESIRE: If you are looking for people to support or join you, your speech must motivate them towards Commitment and Action. Your case must be sound and your audience must like you. It is a time to be emotive, so try and present 3 strong points that are relevant to your audience and your cause.

COMMITMENT: This is the “What if….?” point. What if you don’t support or join. It is important not to be too negative here as the hint of a total breakdown of civilised society is not motivating and can turn people away from you. Again, try for 3 points to illustrate the effects of a lack of action and how this can be avoided with their support.

ACTION: Surprisingly, despite having a captive audience and a convincing case, many speakers finish after Commitment. If you do, you are giving up a serious opportunity.

Never assume that your audience knows what to do next – they need to be told. Always try and get mobile numbers and email addresses, so you can contact them or provide further information. Never just say “contact me” because few will; you must make the contact.

Always have something to give away: leaflets, information sheets and business cards are the usual stuff. For real effect, hand out an information packs – I have always found these successful.

Public speaking gives you the (almost) undivided attention of an audience for a finite period. Use it to your advantage.


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