Let It Flow: How To Deliver A Speech That Doesn’t Ramble
Have you ever listened to a speaker who babbles on without being able to connect his thoughts in a clear manner? The one who misses the mark altogether and leaves the audience squirming in their seats? Let’s call him “The Rambler.” At special occasions, in particular, we’ve seen this type of speaker take the microphone while everyone else counts the minutes until the speech is over. Bottom line: nobody wants to deliver this kind of speech, let alone sit through it.
So how do you make sure your speech flows in a way that engages the audience, leaving them wanting more, not less? How do you make sure your words are crisp and meaningful, kicking those tangents to the curb? Here’s some advice to make sure your next speech isn’t a rambling mess of disconnected thoughts:
Have a purpose
Before you speak, make sure you have a clear vision of who will be in your audience and what you want them to do, think and feel. Without a set goal or purpose, it will be much harder to be passionate about what you’re saying and articulate exactly what you want the audience to remember.
Let your stories talk for you
In order to achieve your purpose, think about the examples, personal experiences and stories that will help you get there. This will help you stay on topic and make sure that what you’re sharing is interconnected. For example, if your goal is to highlight your sister’s creativity during your maid of honor speech, you could talk about she told the most captivating bedtime stories growing up, how she started her own business or how she created a first date scavenger hunt for her now husband. By allowing these anecdotes to speak for themselves, you can use them as a framework for reaching your end goal: the audience realizing just how creative your sister is and how much you admire her for it.
Keep it simple
Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” By keeping the premise and supportive examples simple and clear, the audience is much more likely to understand, remember and repeat. Create 1-2 memorable moments and make your message stick. Some ideas for achieving this are repeating a catchphrase, visual motif or signature gesture that stays with your audience.
Practice, practice, practice
Another way to avoid rambling is to practice your speech aloud several times. Standing up the way you would actually deliver the speech is also important. Try recording yourself and then playing the recording back, listening to your own voice while you stand and walk around. Or practicing in front of a small group of trusted advisors in advance. Focusing on a polished delivery will help you get in the right mindset to make a positive impression on your actual audience.
While you’re rehearsing, don’t forget to pull out the stopwatch. One of the best ways to ensure a smooth flow is by making sure you’re well within your time limit. If you’re giving a celebratory toast, 2-5 minutes is a good target. If the speech is too short or too long, don’t be afraid to embellish or trim down, accordingly.
Stick to the script
When it’s showtime, don’t be tempted to improvise or “wing it.” Deliver your speech like you rehearsed it in advance. This is not the time to channel a new personality or technique. Stay true to your words and to yourself.
If you’ve followed all the steps, the only rambling that may happen is from guests coming up to praise you for a job well done.