There are people out there who believe just because they open their mouth that they can speak well. The reality is that only a select few people are ACTUALLY great at speaking in front of people or large audiences. Like being good at a sport or the art of writing or drawing... it is a craft. Not everyone is a naturally-gifted speaker and while you certainly can learn to become a great speaker; it takes time, practice, patience, and self awareness to become a memorable speaker.
I often get asked after I speak, just what are the elements of being a good speaker that I've either learned or applied to my craft. There isn't a "one shoe fits all" recipe or formula that works for everyone and its not like you can go to school to major in speech training or public speaking! BUT there certainly are elements that all great speakers seem to have. Here are the 10 ingredients needed if you want to speak influentially to anyone, whether it be in person one-on-one or publicly in front of a crowd:
The Recipe for Being a Memorable Speaker
- Voice tone and pitch. Some speakers just naturally have soothing voices to listen too. Their pitch isn't high and they are able to vary their tone to make what their saying extremely interesting. Speaker's voices are their calling card.. as soon as you hear their voice you should want to stop and listen because you are engaged. Some people have extremely recognizable voices that people always enjoy listening too and can easily identify. Recognize this well-known actor/ narrator in this commercial?
- Body language. As I blogged about last week, impressions are influenced by 93% non-verbal communication. What are you saying with your actions (or what aren't you saying?) Do you animate how you speak by using hand motions to engage your audience? You must in order to add another element to keep your audience listening and to make it fun!
- Storytelling. Your ability to "tell" the story will be one, if not the most important factor in being a memorable speaker. You can have the best content but if you can't deliver, you've failed! The selection of words, how you say those words, and the way you tell/explain your story or idea is vital to how much people will enjoy you.
- Content. The other half of the public speaking equation to complement delivery is content. This is probably the most challenging part of speaking (at least for me anyways). How do you tailor your content to your specific audience so you aren't talking too high-level or too in-depth for them. How do you talk about something serious but make it interesting (and sometimes funny) for those listening. It takes years of practice to hone in the skill of creating killer content when speaking!
- Humour. Nothing is better when a speaker makes fun of themselves or make jokes (that don't seem too placed!) that put the audience at ease. It not only relaxes the audience but it relaxes the speaker too, making them seem more confident in what they're sharing. And of course, its always enjoyable to watch someone who looks like they're having fun :)
- Authenticity. The best part about listening to someone speak is hearing about who they are and how unique they are whether in their background or their ideas. Speakers should never "model" themselves after anyone else. Back to my idea that I shared with the Aggie graduates, don't be cookie cutter. Always be aware of who you are; how unique your story is.. that is what people want to hear.. YOUR story!
- Eye-Appealing. Speaking is about the total package. I'm sure you'd be shocked if someone with a fantastic voice didn't have the rest of the package to match. This includes having the total package of dressing appropriately, using body language, and having presence so you really own and command the stage.
- Thought-Provoking. The best speakers challenge the audience to think differently than they thought before coming into the speech or presentation. No one said speaking was easy...the best speakers are the ones that say what everyone is thinking, but in a very politic and constructive way (for the most part anyways!)
- Organized & Prepared. There is no other rule more simple for a speaker to follow then to be organized and prepared. Organized in knowing your content/powerpoint slides and knowing where you're going to take the presentation with the audience in tow. Of course, the other part to being "prepared" as a speaker is being able to handle all the things that come your way unexpected and unplanned. Handle these situations calmly and your audience will notice!
- Value. And the end of the day, when people listen to a speaker, they want to have a take away message that they learned from you. Whether it is 1 piece of information or 3 key messages, leave your audience with something valuable so they see you as a memorable speaker! I guarantee you will be asked to speak again if your audience continues to see and get value from what you're saying.
What other ingredients do you believe are needed for the recipe of a memorable speaker?