Eight Essentials of Good Speaking – A Speech Primer

StoryTelling is currently big. At other times, other elements of speechmaking have been big. Currently, storytelling is big.

Not just stories are big. Storytelling is big.

There are books, and articles, and blogs on storytelling.

Like other aspects of speaking, there are TED Talks and seminars to help you get better at the storytelling aspect of speaking.

keep-calm-and-focus-on-the-basicsBut, here’s my experience. For the average speaker/presenter, the basics are what are sorely missing. People keep talking about Speech 401 issues (like storytelling) when in reality Speech 101 is not yet mastered.

So, here’s a speech primer for the rest of us… You really can never ignore these eight essentials of good speaking.

#1 – Prepare well. In fact, write your speech out word for word.
(Did you know that there are Academy awards for best “manuscript,” i.e., best “scripted” movies? They call these scripts/manuscripts “screenplays.” There are no Academy Awards for best ad-libbed or “extemporaneous” movies. That is telling, don’t you think?!).

#2 – Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse.
Six times minimum –especially if it is an important speech.

#3 – Video your next-to-last rehearsal.
Just set your SmartPhone up, and hit record. Then watch yourself on video; carefully – watch your posture, your gestures, your eye-contact. Listen to your voice. Are you loud and clear? Are you speaking in a monotone? If so – DON’T!
Then, fix things in your last rehearsal.

#4 – Practice good posture.
This is bigger than you think.

#5 – Speak to your audience – not to your notes, or to some slides on a screen.

#6 – Have someone record your actual speech. Watch the recording. Then, get better next time.

#7 – Oh – about those stories. Practice telling stories a lot – in many everyday conversations.
Get your stories down. Get your beginning right, your middle; your end. Don’t ramble. Tell your stories with enough emotion and content to be engaging; even gripping; but don’t belabor them.
And, tell your good (your best) stories in your speeches/presentations.
And, find and tell your own stories. Don’t borrow someone else’s stories.
If you do tell someone else’s story, give credit; tell where the story comes from.



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