What Makes a Great Speech?

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So you have just sat through a great speech and even joined in to give the speaker an spontaneous standing ovation. But did you stop to ask yourself “What made that such a great speech?”

Everyone who speaks wants to deliver a great speech, but all too often that becomes the goal instead of focusing on what makes a speech great and what makes a speech great is not the way it was performed – but the content – and in particular the message.

For a speech to be really great there has to be a clear simple message that is so memorable that when someone asks you a day or so later later what the speech was all about you can answer them almost without thinking.

Think back for a moment to the last great speech you heard – What was the message?  What was the point of the speech. I’l bet that you struggle with this.  In know because I often cannot answer that question – even when it seemed to be a great speech.

Don’t worry about performance skills – focus on content. What do you want people to do differently, what action do you want them to take. If you struggle with this – look at the key points you are going to make in your speech and ask yourself  – “So What?  Why is that important?”     ,,,and keep on asking that question until you get to the clear message.

I love Seth Godin – and I think the reason I love to hear him speak is because he has a clear message. He may speak for ten minutes or half an hour on the topic but at the end there is a clear message – there is a take away that I can use and will remember tomorrow, next week, next year.

For example his book Purple Cow has a simple message – Be successful by Being Remarkable.  If you read the book or listen to any of his speeches on the topic – that single simple message is at the core of it. Be Successful by Being Remarkable.  (OK occasionally Remarkable is replaced by Extraordinary – but its still the same message.

Watch this recent five minute video of Seth explaining his idea.

So what should you take away from this blog post?

Next time you write a speech – start with a simple clear message and build your speech around making that message unforgettable.  


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