One of the many roles we have as a communicator is to give speeches….whether in the form of small business presentations, one-on-ones with media representatives or in front of audiences of 1,000 or more. It can be a daunting moment starting out and staring at that blank piece of paper or blank computer screen as you begin writing the words you want to share. Where do I start? What do I want to say to the audience I will be addressing? And who, besides those in the room, will hear or read my words later?
The most important element, from the onset, is to develop the messages you want to share with the particular audience and stick with them. Don’t waver far from them, no matter how long the presentation, or they will get lost.
When developing your key messages, make sure there is a sense of sincerity, relay to the audience information you are truly passionate about. That genuineness will come through in your presentation – big or small. As former First Lady Michelle Obama’s speechwriter, Sarah Hurwitz, said in a recent interview:
“The most important lesson I’ve learned about speechwriting is very simple: Say something true. When people are thinking about giving a speech, they’re often thinking, ‘What will make me sound smart or interesting or witty or powerful?’ Or they’re thinking, ‘What does the audience want to hear?’ Those really shouldn’t be your first and most foundational questions.
“Your first question should be, ‘What is the deepest and most important truth that I can tell at this moment?’ Whether you were giving a speech to 1,000 people or talking to your board or leading an informal meeting, it’s really important to say something that is clearly and glaringly true. I think that it makes people trust you. It makes them respect you. It shows your authenticity. I think it makes you credible and it’s a really good way to start.”
Authenticity, she adds, is a must. To ensure your messages are considered long after your presentation is over, remember to come off personable and down-to-earth. No stuffy language allowed.
“The second (key) that’s really important to remember is to just talk like a person,” Hurwitz said. “Often when people stand up behind a podium, they start using all these words and phrases that they would never normally use.
“In business,” she said, “you hear people talking about, ‘We need to catalyze the leveraging of the unsiloed verticals.’ It’s like people don’t know what you’re talking about. Or you see politicians doing this, ‘We need to put hard-working American middle-class family values first.’ It’s this sort of bland, generic politician speech, and it’s not relatable. You would never say, ‘We need to put hard-working American family values first’ to your spouse or your friend. That’s not how people communicate with each other. It’s important to talk like a person.”
Where you begin in developing your presentation sets the direction and tone. These vital first steps should act as your guide and help you start filling that blank computer screen with meaningful messages that will resonate with your audience.
For speechwriting assistance or assistance in developing key messages for your company, let us put our expertise to work for you. Contact Don Rountree, Rountree Group, 770-645-4545.