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How to Give an Inspiring and Memorable Speech

How to Give an Inspiring and Memorable Speech
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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!

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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