Here’s what you need to know to write a great speech

Speech

It’s an often stated fact that public speaking is said to be people’s number one fear – with death coming in at number two – yes you read that right.  The reality is, that at some point in your life, you’re probably going to have to write and deliver a speech.  However as they say in the military:  Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.   Get off on the right foot by following these six simple ‘rules’.

Understand your audience

Always remember, this speech is not about you – it’s about your audience. The type of speech you deliver will depend on the audience and that will determine the tone and style of speech you make. A business speech will have a very different tone to the one you give at your best mate’s wedding so think about your audience. We’ve heard it a million times before but in this instance it’s relevant – when you make a speech you’re taking people on a journey – so give them a head’s up about where you’re going and tell them what you’ll be talking about and why.

 

Deliver a powerful opening

Grab your audience’s attention early by starting with a funny anecdote, hitting them with a shocking statistic or even by asking a question and asking for a show of hands. The earlier you gain their attention and the stronger the emotional connection you create – the more likely they’ll hang in there with you for the remainder of the speech.  Authenticity matters and so do personal stories so make your speech relatable and memorable.   Check out Steve Jobs How to live before you die speech.

Keep the language simple

The best speeches use simple language and avoid jargon. Be human – talk to the audience as if you were talking to a friend. Use short sentences and write like you speak. What reads well on paper doesn’t always work in the verbal delivery. Read your speeches aloud and discard anything that doesn’t work – or that you find yourself stumbling over.  Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations used straightforward language but but it packed one hell of a punch.

Do your research

As you deliver your speech, your audience will be judging the credibility of it and of your authority as the speechmaker, so make sure you know your subject matter. Think about what you’d like people to take away from your talk and work that into your narrative. Limit your speech to two or three key points and repeat those points during the course of the speech. If you overwhelm your audience with too many stats and facts they’ll either switch off or they won’t remember any of them.  If you have to deliver bad or unexpected news in your speech make sure people understand why.  Check out Alan Joyce’s 2010 ‘Qantas grounding speech‘ where he makes the case for his decision (although he was widely criticised for it) – the speech itself ticks all the boxes.

Martin Luther King

Tell a story

All good speeches tell stories and it almost doesn’t matter what the occasion is. Think about what story you’re trying to tell and then weave it into your speech. For some occasions (for example at weddings or funerals) you will probably already have a wealth of stories to choose from. In business, you should link your new product or service back to the story of the company’s reason for being and its mission – paint a picture using words and walk people though the landscape. Authenticity matters and so do real life experiences. People won’t always remember facts and figures but they’ll remember a good story and it will make the occasion more memorable.

Keep it short

People have limited attention spans, even for subjects which interest them and after a while their attention will naturally start to wane. This is an audience so don’t make them feel like hostages. Rehearse your speech, stick to your messages and finish on time. Some of the most powerful speeches in history have been the shortest – like Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address which was less than 300 words.

It goes without saying that if you want to learn how to deliver a great speech, listen and learn from the best. Paul Keating’s former speechwriter Don Watson gives his tips on how to write a great speech here.

Finally practice makes perfect – take a deep breath, smile and enjoy holding the audience in the palm of your hand.  You’ve got this!

Five important reasons why you need a business blog

business blog

Let’s cut to the chase.  If you have a business website but havn’t included a blog then you’re seriously missing out.  Here are five reasons why you should definitely have a blog on your website.

1. A business blog provides an additional opportunity to showcase what you do

People coming to your site will check out what you do, but you can guarantee they’ll also check out your competitors.  Having a blog which tells the story of your product or service is another way of connecting with your customers and gaining their business.  Research shows that blogging for business is very effective in increasing enquiries and generating leads so why wouldn’t you?

2. A business blog enables you to better understand what your customers are looking for

The back end of your website enables you to see what customers are clicking on when they come to your site.  If you have articles on your small business blog (related to your products or services) then you can see which articles are most popular with your customers and that means you can better target them.

3.  Having a business blog increases traffic to your website

More traffic to your website will help increase your Google ranking making it easier for search engines to find you.  Posting regular content which is relevant and interesting for your customers is a win win because you’re meeting their needs and increasing your profile at the same time.

4. Your business blog enables you to directly engage with your customers

When you post a blog article, you can invite comments from your readers.  Allowing readers to comment and then responding is an easy way to humanise your brand and to foster a deeper connection with your target audience.  Not only that, every post should include a call to action.  A call to action is designed to persuade readers to do something – for example to buy, sign up, start shopping, continue reading or to register.  You could even include something like a discount voucher or limited offer.

5. Your business blog has the potential to reach a wider audience

If you have a blog on your website and readers like or value what you’ve written, then chances are they’ll share it with others which means that your audience and your reach, increases.  There’s no question that spending time developing a business blog can increase the success of your business at a relatively low cost.

So – that’s my top five tips.

Writing for small businesses is what I do, so if you don’t have a blog for your small business but this article has got you thinking – then get in touch.  I can help with setting up your blog and content creation.

Steve Jobs was right about so many things but especially this

 

Steve Jobs once said “customers don’t know what they want until we show them”. That was his reply to a team member who asked if Apple should undertake market research when they were building the first Mac.

steve-jobs_17

image courtesy of Top News

 

I’ve never owned an iPhone but after reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson a few years back – I felt like rushing out and buying one. By the time I reached the end of the book, I was totally convinced by his vision, what he wanted for end-users and his foresight about how mobile technology would change the way we connect with each other and across the globe.

 

It goes without saying Steve Jobs was one a kind – a creative genius, a flawed and complex personality – almost devoid of people skills some might say and a die-hard hippie to boot. But his charisma and capacity to galvanise others is what enabled him to create a future, which up until that point, only existed in his imagination.

 

Steve Jobs was a leader but he couldn’t have done it without the support of those around him and he acknowledged that.  Who can forget his powerful words about it being the square pegs in the round holes, the misfits and the crazy ones who change the world.

 

So what he said about customers is true.  And although it seems back-to-front, sometimes customers really don’t know what they want until they are presented with it.  But once they’ve got it, they then wonder how they ever lived without it. Like the iPhone.

 

As a copywriter, my job is to help you reach your customers and clients through the power of words. Maybe you have a product or service which customers don’t realise they want.  Yet.  But when they do they’ll be tearing your arm off.

 

I never did buy an iPhone but regardless, I found Steve Jobs’ story utterly compelling.

So what about you?  Who or what has inspired you on your own business journey?