What do you remember most about the greatest speeches you’ve heard?
Do you remember what the speaker was wearing? Exactly what their hand gestures were? The entire content of their speech?
The chances are you’ve just answered “No” to all three questions.
The thing that we take away from great speeches are the stories that are told. We remember the stories that we relate to and the stories that we are able to picture.
This is one of the fundamental – and easy – keys to writing a great speech. A speech that will be remembered for all the right reasons. Stories are what the audience remember and what they will love about your speech.
So – how do you go about making your stories into a great speech?
1. Decide on a theme for your speech. It could be a Best Man’s Speech which focuses on how disorganised the groom is and it’s been good management on your part that he’s even here today; a Father-of-the-Bride Speech which highlights how clumsy the bride was growing up and that the groom had better make sure the insurance is up to date; a Eulogy for someone who was obsessed with their cars and how it affected those around them.
Find the theme that makes the most sense to you and then check with other people connected to the person you’re speaking about to make sure that you’re on track. Now that you have the theme, everything else should tie in with it.
2. Choose one, two or three stories that all tie into the theme of your speech. A bunch of random stories that don’t match the theme will just seem disjointed and confuse the audience. The number of stories will depend on the time you have available. A good tip is one story for each 3-4 minutes, with a maximum of 3 stories in total. If you have to speak for longer than 12 minutes provide more detail in the stories you have but stick to a maximum of 3 stories.
3. Build your stories to include strong mental images for your audience. If they can picture the characters, the environment, the event and/or the outcome they will remember the story. The audience will also become more involved in your speech because they can picture the story happening.
4. Make sure that the stories are relevant to the whole audience. The audience doesn’t need to have been present at the story event but they do need to understand the context to create their own mental pictures.
5. Insert a sentence or two between each of the stories that relates it back to the main theme. This will help with the flow of the speech and make it easier for the audience to follow, rather than just listening to a few stories from the past.
Remember, the audience wants to hear what you have to say and they want to feel connected with you and your speech. Well told stories will go a long way towards making this happen.
Have fun with your speech and your audience will have fun as well.
Laura James – Special Occasion Speeches