Jamie Pickering stepped onto the stage. He blinked for a second as the bright lights blinded him.
This was his big moment!
Weeks of preparation and practice were about to come together. The nerves, the butterflies, the revisions, the reciting to the mirror… Everything was going to pay off.
Even if he made a mistake along the way, how bad could it be? He was speaking to a friendly audience. They were happy. They were here to lap-up what he had to say. Nothing like last year when Carpenter spoke to them. No shareholder dividends last year and the prospect of more bad years to come. The audience had been livid. Carpenter had been booed off stage.
In just a year, to everyone’s surprise, the company had turned things around. Now it was Jamie’s turn to speak and the audience were going to be receptive.
As Jamie moved towards the center of the stage the 500 investors in front of him began to applaud. It was a good 30 seconds at the lectern before the applause stopped.
This was his audience.
He was ready.
As the applause died down Jamie started to speak, and that’s when it all started to go downhill.
The sudden quiet in the auditorium rattled him.
Jamie forgot to look at his cue cards and began talking from memory. Going against how he’d been practicing over and over the last few weeks.
He missed key points in his speech and failed to get the reactions he was expecting. The longer he talked the rougher his speech became. Jamie lost confidence fast.
Finally sorting out his cue cards, Jamie reviewed the key points in his speech, thanked the audience, and took questions.
The audience weren’t quite as friendly any more.
What did Jamie do wrong?
The first thing Jamie did wrong was deliver in a different manner to how he practiced. I am no fan of cue cards, but if that’s what he used to practice then that’s how he should deliver.
During his presentation, Jamie droned on and on about his topic. Long boring, monotone sentences. Unless a speaker practices speaking from memory, trying to speak from memory on stage, after only using cue cards, can be problematic. It can lead to speaking the way Jamie did.
Here are three things Jamie could try next time to be an instant hit with his audience. Try them in your speeches as well for awesome results. The best thing is, they don’t take any time to implement.
1. Open with your conclusion
Speeches that open with the conclusion are often characterized as boring.
But they don’t have to be sleep-inducing.
Perhaps your speech is about the new marketing plan effective from next month.
You could open with a conclusion like:
I’m going to explain how the new marketing program will work.
But that’s really boring. Instead try something like this:
This afternoon I’m going to explain how we will double our sales figures for the coming financial year with no extra work on your part.
Both of them give the conclusion upfront, but the second one gives the listener a reason to tune in.
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2. Show your emotion
If you are not passionate about your speech then your audience won’t be.
Jamie showed no passion because he fumbled his cue cards and tried to speak from memory. He was too nervous to be passionate.
Even if he had made some mistakes in his speech, if he’d at least been passionate the audience would have fed off this emotion. The speech would have gone much more smoothly.
Get into your topic, understand it, and show how passionate you are about it. Your audience will respond and follow your lead.
3. Keep it simple
Forgetting what he wanted to say led Jamie to being wordy and droning on and on.
The key to memorable presentations is to keep it simple.
Think of the speeches you’ve attended that were most memorable. The ones you remember well are the ones where the speaker transmitted a simple message. A message so simple that it was easy to repeat often and emphasize to the audience. A message so simple that you remember the main point to this day.
Speak in short, simple sentences. Keep your message on point. Pause often to ensure the audience can absorb what you have said.
Best of luck with your next speech. Comment below and let me know how it went and any challenges you experienced!