Make Your Speech Memorable
Date: November 19, 2015
It’s not the speech that counts, but what happens after it. Gestures of agreement and a surge of motivation through the crowd are positive feedback, but you want to have your audience thinking about you for days, months… even years afterwards.
We’ve all been in the audience of someone who doesn’t seem to notice that nobody cares what they’re saying. (How can yawns and fidgeting go unnoticed really?). The desire to make your speech memorable is the most common ambition that public speakers have.
If it’s not, then you need to reevaluate why you’re speaking in the first place. Isn’t it to inspire people and make a difference to their lives? To be the one who made that person quit the job they hated and live their dreams?
Your message will only resonate with listeners if:
- Your subjects are relatable
- Your speech is memorable
How To Make Your Speech Unforgettable
Before we begin with tips on improving your own abilities to connect with the audience, think back to a recent presentation you attended. What do you remember? It’s probably not much, and if people were to think the same thing about your speech, you’d be pretty disappointed.
No matter what you’re covering, it has to inspire people. Before you put pen to paper, ask yourself what you want people to take away from you. It has to be put into a positive light, even if what your presenting is dark and heartbreaking. Your goal in mind should be for people to walk out of the room thinking that they will take your advice on board throughout every part of their life.
In order to get people to remember you, they have to listen to you, and they’ll only do so if you don’t treat them like students. Remember that grumpy teacher you despised at school? Don’t become that person by telling people what to do and how to live their lives. Make suggestions.
Present yourself in such a way that it’s like you’re looking out for them, and not bossing them around. People won’t respect a stranger telling them how to behave and act.
So how do you do that?
In a number of ways. But the first, is to make your speech personal and emotive. Let’s say you’re talking to students about safe driving. They won’t listen or remember you if you say “If you drive 40mph in a 30 limit, you could kill someone and lose your license”. Facts are boring and non-emotive. We all know that, like we know eating too much chocolate will make us overweight – yet we don’t listen to the facts all the time.
If we use this same goal of getting students to drive safe, but instead, you talk about a time someone you know was in a car accident because another driver was texting at the wheel, you’ll get their attention. That’s because stories are a lot more personal. You’re talking about an experience that happened, and not about the chances of it happening.
You make it real this way and bring your points to life.
But also, this example has a lot of emotion too… and not the good kind. It’s hard for the speaker to say, and hard for the audience to listen to, but that’s actually a positive thing. It’s shocking and devastating to listen to someone who has been through a traumatic time.
Think of it like this; have you ever heard something so terrible on the news that you can’t get it out of your head? It plays on your mind whilst you’re eating breakfast, having a shower and just walking to the car. You can’t shake the terrible imagery away.
It’s not all doom and gloom though.
You don’t have to make your audience feel uncomfortable and ONLY talk about sad times in your speech to make them remember you; you can talk about positive things too. But you should always address serious, life-changing points. Keep it serious. No inappropriate jokes, sloppy body language or slurred diction.
Don’t Lose Your Audience’s Attention
What’s exciting to you isn’t always exciting for others. Just because you think your dream was extraordinary, doesn’t mean everyone else wants to listen to the details.
It’s the same with your speech. Every single minute is precious, so only say things that either entertain others, or add something to its meaning.
Here’s the thing, everyone has a personality… but most become a robot as soon as they step on the stage. A sense of humour, smile and friendless all become abandoned traits.
Be true to who you are. Don’t change the way you speak to try to get others to like you because that’s too typical and you’ll be forgettable.
Have fun and be lively. Don’t stand still. Be energetic, use your arms to project yourself and even come into the audience if that’s what makes you comfortable. Avoid eye contact and stand in one position all night and you’ll be labelled as “the boring one”.
Everyone loves stories, so keep them coming. We live in a world where we watch movies, read books and analyse song lyrics. Create characters and act out scenes. Bring everything to life and make the audience feel like they were with you at the time.
The main thing is to never confuse your audience and always keep them entertained. Do this by summarising up your main points in the conclusion without repeating yourself. Think like your audience. Would they know what to take away from your presentation? Are you making your points clear enough that they completely understand what you’re saying? Or are you running on a treadmill and not getting anywhere?
Say things as you mean them.
Regardless of how long your slot is, your job is still the same: to entertain and inspire. Practice your speech so much that you don’t need any prompts on stage. Notes can make it look a little too scripted. You want to keep the whole speech natural by letting go of how people will perceive you.
Giving a speech is scary, but you’re not alone and you’re not being judged half as much as you think. Don’t be afraid to tell strangers personal stories – and if you shed a tear in the process, they’ll respect you for letting them in. It shows you’re human and people remember stories that are packed with exciting events and have made a difference to someone’s life.