The number 1 fear in the United States is public speaking. People are afraid that they won’t be able to deliver a successful speech. Number 2 is death! As Jerry Seinfeld put it, “this means for an average American, if you have to be at a funeral, you’d rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy”.
No doubt public speaking can be nerve racking. There is so much opportunity to make a fool of yourself. You’re under the spotlight and all eyes are on you. This is not a scenario most people are used to. Fortunately, delivering a successful speech isn’t as difficult as most people make it out to be.
I recently had the opportunity of a lifetime to speak to Texas State University’s Studies in Entrepreneurship Class. Compared to other successful speeches I’ve delivered, this small group of students should have been a breeze. But for me, this was a Bucket List item.
I took Dr. Bell’s class as an undergrad student. This particular class was the reason I had selected Texas State University over the more widely revered University of Texas. I’m very glad I did. When I graduated, I wrote down a list of accomplishments that would measure my success as my career developed. At the top of that list was “deliver a successful speech to the Studies in Entrepreneurship Class”.
There is a very short list of speakers every year and each speaker is handpicked by the professors. To make this list was a big deal. The list included big names. A former CEO of Harley Davidson, Presidential Advisor Karl Rove, ATP Oil and Gas Founder T. Paul Bulmahan, have all been past speakers.
Making the list was exciting but set me up for huge failure. What if I wasn’t any good? Here I am delivering a speech I’d remember for the rest of my life. The actual speech would dictate if this was going to be a good memory or a bad memory. Luckily, I had my 5 secrets to a successful speech written down in my desk drawer.
I have developed this list for over several years already. Each secret was discovered while watching the best in the industry such as Zig Ziglar, John C. Maxwell and Andy Andrews. Use the 5 secrets and you’ll start to prefer the eulogy over the casket.
1. Give the audience what they need. They’re all there for a reason, to grow. Step one of any speech should be to write down who your audience is and what they need to know. Then you can write a speech that would cater to their needs.
2. SCORRE! I follow the method that is taught at the SCORRE conference. Filling this outline out gives you everything you need to in one place to write the perfect speech outline.
3. Speak from the heart. The audience will see through any lies in seconds. Speak strictly on ideas that you know from the heart. You shouldn’t need notes.
4. Use a slide presentation. A good presentation doesn’t include much details. Look at David Allen’s slides in this video. Most are one or two words only. The audience can read faster than you speak. If your slides have too much details on it, the audience will just read them and tone you out. Slides should provide the central theme, that is it.
5. Be comfortable. The audience can sense fear quicker than anything. Do whatever you must to be comfortable. For Andy Andrews, he walks among the audience. John Maxwell sits on a stool. I walk the stage and am fairly animated with my expressions. Audiences connect with authenticity. They want to feel like they know you so it is critical that you make yourself vulnerable and deliver the real YOU.
Every speaker gets some sort of jitters. If you don’t get them, there is something wrong with you. But following these 5 secrets to a successful speech will help you deliver your presentation with the kind of calm confidence the pros exude. The best speeches I’ve seen boil down to this simple formula. Include all these secrets in your speech preparation and you’ll be able to deliver a successful speech every time.
What scares you the most about public speaking?