Speaker Tips: Avoid these 3 things in your Speeches

Posted on July 1, 2014

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

3 speaker tips

Speaker Tips: When giving speeches to an audience you want to keep their attention by using words and sentences that convey your message. I recommend that you choose simple words and sentences to do so. Whether you audience is highly educated, very young, or they are used to highly technical or medical jargon, you will not be talking down to them just because you use shorter sentences or simpler words. In fact, you will be captivating them because they will be receptive to your overall message because they will have on their “relaxed ears,” as opposed to their professional or adult ears.

Here are 3 things to avoid in your speeches so that you captivate your audience.


Speaker Tips 1) Don’t use cliché long phrases.

These two examples really bug me: “As you well know…”  And: “In conclusion…” Replacements for these should just be simple and plain statement sentences which tell the audience facts; or re-state what your speech had been leading up to with your facts. This is one I recently heard and it’s just dumb: “It is my profound opinion…” Unless you are playing a president in the 19th century it a play, this can be shortened to: “in many cases.” Or: “in conjunction with.”

Speaker Tips 2) Use shorter sentences.

As a professional writer and blogger I’ve learned how to string a lot of words together to either move the reader or “sell my point.” But an audience listens differently than they read. Most speeches are under 15 minutes and most of them are only 5 minutes. That’s not a lot of time to convey a lot of feeling tone, facts and opinions about your subject. If you shorten your sentences, you’ll be more able to get much more into your speech. The audience will also follow you more readily because you will be moving more quickly, from thought to thought, as opposed to using long drawn out description or substantiating text.

Speaker Tips 3) Just start your speech

Don’t let “It’s great to be here!” be your  first sentence. Everyone expects the keynote speaker to walk up to the podium and either thank the introducer or say “Good afternoon,” so don’t do it. Some of the best speeches I’ve seen recently were from non-professional talkers who walked right up to the microphone and stated what I was seeing on the Slideshare screen behind them. “This is what climate change looks like.” And: “Arby’s saved 2 million dollars in advertising with this hat.” They got my attention right away and were enthusiastic about their topics and they never talked over my head.  Please just use your first line of your speech.

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Of course you should share your enthusiasm for all of your speaking topics with your audience. You should also use your own speech patterns and this should help you to avoid cliché long phrases or long sentences.



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