Five Ingredients To Giving A Winning Speech
Delivering a winning speech or toast isn’t always easy. Rambling thoughts, inappropriate stories and awkward pauses can quickly cause speakers with the best of intentions to fall short, or worse. Many of us have witnessed some epic fails; the drunken best man speech has become rather cliché. Now that weddings and other celebrations will be soon making a comeback, it’s a good idea to give some advance thought to your next speech. By keeping these five elements in mind, you can significantly increase your chances of speech success.
1. Structure. Just like the most memorable stories, every speech needs structure— a beginning, a middle and an end. Your introduction should talk about how you feel about being part of the celebration (e.g., pleased, honored, joyous) and set up what you are going to talk about. The middle part should include more substantive material— personal stories, anecdotes and memories that will resonate with the whole audience and especially the guest of honor. Whether you close with a word of congratulations or something a bit more creative is up to you.
2. Rhythm and Flow. The best speeches have a clear and easy flow. They transition between thoughts seamlessly. If your speech feels like stream of consciousness it probably is. Paying close attention to the connections between your stories is a great starting point. Also, think of your speech as a polished conversation and write it that way. It should mirror your natural speech patterns so that it sounds authentic, not forced or overly formal.
3. Personality. No matter what, your speech should sound like you and be reflective of your personality. If you are typically funny or witty, make sure that your speech is too. If you are a person of few words, make your speech short and to the point. Don’t try to sound like someone you’re not.
4. Specific examples. Instead of describing the guest of honor as “compassionate,” provide a funny or heartwarming story that demonstrates how he or she showed compassion. Specific anecdotes and memories go a long way in making a person’s character come to life. Just make sure that the stories you share are not too embarrassing and are appropriate for all ears.
5. Time Limit. Please do yourself a favor and keep your special occasion speech under five minutes. Anything longer and you will lose people’s attention. It’s best to say what you want to say and leave people wanting more, not less.
These elements will provide you with a great backbone for your next speech. If you get stuck along the way, please reach out and I would be happy to help. If not, you’re well on your way to delivering a speech to remember!