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How to Give an Inspiring and Memorable Speech

How to Give an Inspiring and Memorable Speech

If you are afraid to give a speech, you’re not alone. Public speaking is one of the top 3 fears that people have in life, right up there with the fear of death and going to the dentist. My dad was a dentist, and I teach pubic speaking, so we always said that we like inflicting pain on people. But all joking aside, here are some ways you can deliver an inspiring and memorable speech even if you are nervous about it.

1. Get the audience’s attention.

Let’s face it: people have short attention spans. And if you don’t hook them right away, they will most likely tune out. You can ask them a question, tell a story, tell a joke, play a video, or arouse their curiosity. Whatever you do, don’t start out saying, “What I’m going to talk about is …” or “Hi my name is … ” B-o-r-i-n-g. As often as I tell my students not to do that, many of them do. And inevitably, they are not the good speeches. So don’t forget the attention-grabber right away.

2. Tell them why you’re qualified to talk about the topic.

Did you notice that in my opening paragraph I told you that I teach public speaking? That was my “credibility statement” in this article. Would you read this article if it was written by a chef who had never given a speech in his/her life? Probably not. And you shouldn’t take cooking advice from me either because I can barely cook Hamburger Helper. I think you see my point. You need to prove to the audience that you know your stuff.

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3. Preview your speech.

People like to know what’s ahead. That’s why we watch movie trailers. Most of us wouldn’t want to go to a movie if we had absolutely no clue what it was about. Speeches are no different. This is another huge mistake most speakers make. My students almost always forget to preview their main points. And when that happens, they sound like they are just rambling. This is not good for your credibility (see #2).

4. Be lively with your delivery.

I’m sure you have all been in an audience when you have had a boring speaker. It could have been a teacher, professor, or just simply someone you wanted to hear speak. But nothing will put an audience to sleep faster than a monotone person who doesn’t move around or use any gestures. I remember I had a sociology class in college where they professor literally did put most of the students to sleep. And I also had a Greek Mythology class where the professor acted out the Greek myths and wore costumes as he taught. Guess which class was more popular?

5. Don’t read the speech!

Going hand-in-hand with #4, one of the ways a delivery can be boring is if someone reads their speech. Yes, there are times when it’s appropriate, like in a graduation speech. In fact, I gave a speech at my 8th grade graduation and I read it. However, that was before I taught pubic speaking, so I didn’t know any better. But ideally, you just want to have key words to remind you of what you should be talking about. Having them on a power point is a great way to accomplish this.

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6. Plan some main points that you will cover so the speech has a structure.

I’m sure you’ve heard speeches where the person just seems to ramble. That is because they don’t have any main points. This is a big mistake my students make. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat there listening and thought to myself, “What’s their topic? What are they even saying?” You don’t want to do that. You need to make it very clear that you have prepared your material and have a “road map” for where you are going with your speech.

7. Have connections between your main points.

Transitions between the parts of the speech helps you with the structure. Preview your main points. Use sentences between them such as, “Now that we have discussed the problem, let’s move on to examine some possible solutions” so the audience doesn’t lose track of where you are going in your speech. And in the conclusion, saying something simple like “In conclusion .. ” or “To summarize what we talked about today … ” signals that you are ending your speech.

8. Tell stories.

Everyone loves stories. We live in a world of stories: we watch TV, we see movies, and we read novels. We even tell stories to our friends about what happened to us. Stories are everywhere. So using them in your speech will help people relate to the material and to you as a speaker. In my classes, I tell personal stories all the time, and it usually makes my students laugh. And who doesn’t like to laugh?

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9. Review your main points in the conclusion.

People have bad memories, and repetition helps them remember information. As I always say in class, “Tell them what you are going to tell them (preview), then tell them (main points), then tell them what you told them (review).” While it might sound like like unnecessary repetition, it helps people retain your information much better.

10. Practice, practice, practice!!

I can always tell when someone is “winging it.” It’s obvious. Preparation and practice are vital to a good speech. I remember when I took my first speech class in college, I totally blanked out in the middle of it. While it may not have made a lasting impression on anyone else, it did on me. From that moment on, I understood the point of practicing. It adds to your confidence and gives you more credibility as a speaker.

11. Leave the audience wanting more.

The audience should want to know more information about your topic when you’re done. They should want to come up to you after the speech and ask you to do another speech. You don’t want to have them sitting there wondering if they should clap because you’re done, or if you’re going to keep going. Believe me, that happens to me in class all the time. Do don’t do that. Make sure you end the speech with a bang, not a whimper.

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Giving a speech can be scary for a lot of people. However, if you follow these simple suggestions, you will do just fine!

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is a communication professor, dating/relationship and success coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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