What does it take to make your talk memorable

Business Success | March 19th, 2014


martin luther king

What makes for a magical talk?

“I’ve heard professional speakers get x to stand up and speak for 45 minutes, talk about easy money!”

You think!, well wouldn’t it be great if it was that easy, that said I will be forever grateful that it isn’t as quite frankly I don’t think Id want to be in a business that allowed all and sundry to stand up and talk as I honestly feel both the demand for speakers and the desire to hear them would diminish very rapidly.

Anyone who has been involved in the speaking profession for a reasonable amount of time knows there is a great deal more to giving a talk than simply standing up and speaking, but are we all aware of what it really takes to make a great speech and if we were ever accused of being a great speaker would there be enough evidence to convict us?

I believe that there are many facets to a great speech and a great speaker and to include them all here would require me to write a book, so just to keep it sweet and simple here are five ingredients that I believe are essential to a great speech.

1. it’s not just about the words

Its not just about he words and it never was, if it was the case college lecturers would make a fortune, after all they deliver highly relevant information, that is essentially life changing and if it wasn’t why would anyone spend three years of their life pursuing a degree?

How the message is delivered is always going to be the most important factor especially when it comes to delivering memorable content, so what makes up a memorable talk.
The impact of our message is down to four variances and aspects of voice tone.

1. The ability to vary the volume and pitch of our voice.
2. Making the most of the pause
3. Creating resonance
4. Punctuating key words

This goes hand in hand with the non verbal delivery of our message, our ability to move purposefully on stage and delivering an air of confidence and credibility to our presence, making decisive gestures and having great eye contact with all parts of the room, making sure that no one feels left out and neglected or overlooked are all so very important and are actually just as important as the message, as without all of the above the message is simply lost long before it reaches the ear of our audience!

2. Connection

Connecting with the audience is paramount, and the best way to connect with anybody is to have a conversation with them, if you were in a meeting with your employer or an official you wouldn’t appreciate being talked at or talked down to, well neither does your audience, great orators understand this and address their audiences in a way that makes each member feel that they are involved in a conversation with the speaker

A conversational style of delivery is a sure way of dissolving the barriers between the speaker and the audience.

3. The compelling message

Random facts thrown together with a bit of humour and an odd point doesn’t make for a compelling message, it simply confuses the audience and makes you appear random and hard to follow, all the great speakers that have stood out in history have always been able to command the attention of the audience by well thought out and wonderfully executed powerful statements that have been the basis of their compelling message, We all remember the famous first lines of the likes of JFK, Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill.

Their initial statements hooked us from the moment they uttered them and we yearned to hear the very next thing that would come out of their mouths, Winston Churchill used to spend hours and hours trying to create a sentence that would grab our attention and keep us rapt until the end, why is it then that so many speakers fail to understand this?

How many times have you seen a speaker run onto the stage and scream “good morning”, only to have a half hearted “good morning” whispered back from the audience, and then what does the speaker do? Repeats his boring first line again, this time with more enthusiasm “I cant hear you, surely you can do better than that as he shouts “GOOD MORNING” again and they respond a little more enthusiastically this time if only to get the speaker to stop shouting at them!

4. Am I getting through?

I’m no great authority on NLP and I don’t choose to be, but I totally agree that we should adopt the V.A.A.K model of delivery when addressing our audiences, V.A.A.K is an acronym for Visual, Auditory, Auditory Digital and Kinaesthetic, which are the primary ways that we access and process information.

We have all heard of multiple intelligences and the facts that we all have different modes of learning, which was wonderful news because we realised that we weren’t actually stupid, the education system was, as it does didn’t cater to our preferred learning mode.

Well your audience isn’t any different, and we need to make sure that we cater to all four aspects of the V.A.A.K model if we want to fully engage and give our listeners the value that they deserve to receive when they gave up their precious time to hear us speak.

(Google  the V.A.A.K model to get a better understanding of it)

5. How is your passion?

Nothing breeds success like success and nothing enhances your success in speaking as much as your passion for the subject, it doesn’t matter if you have the most fascinating subject in the world, if it doesn’t turn you on, it won’t turn your audience on either.

It doesn’t matter what techniques or stage craft you employ if you don’t have passion for your subject, sounds obvious, it might sound obvious but if you rate all of the speakers you watch from 1-10 from no passion to unbelievable passion you will realise that it isn’t that obvious at all, especially to them and their audiences.

Ask yourself what is it about your subject that you are absolutely passionate about, what gets you excited when you talk about it, and if the answer is not much, find another subject!

Mark Baker






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“Thanks for your amazing talk to our sixth form students; you have given us all fresh ways of thinking and viewing the challenges ahead”

Assistant head. Victoria College.

The biggest problem that local businesses have is competing against the salaries and packages offered by the finance industry, professional employers and the public sector. So we find ourselves in a situation whereby a high percentage of our personnel are either transient or do not take their employment seriously. It was for this reason that we approached Mark Baker to help us to help them develop a positive approach to their life with the intended result that this change would cascade into their working life, making their work more rewarding. We really feel that Mark’s efforts have dramatically changed many individuals approach, both for the benefit of our company and their personal lives. Mark will continue working with us.

Barry Jenkins
Managing Director, Fotosound

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