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By Amy Franko

As a training professional and business owner, I spend a lot of time speaking in public. It might be facilitating a course, giving a keynote, presenting a proposal, or even brainstorming project ideas with my team.

I think of “public speaking” as offering a message, and the message can take many forms . . .  spoken, written, live, virtual, recorded.  A message is two equal parts – substance and delivery; to be effective it needs to have both.  This article focuses on delivery, and two great places to start are organization and word choice.

How do I use organization and word choice to add punch to my messages? Read on to find out.

Here are 4 easy ways to better organize your speech and select your word choice:

  1. Use a relevant story as an opening. Stories provide meaning, so grab your listeners from the start with a personal story that leads them into your main points. Placing your story in the middle may leave you having to re-capture their attention. Consider short stories to illustrate other points as well. Stories are especially effective when delivering a virtual message because you don’t have the elements of eye contact or body language to measure engagement.
  2. Summarize your points at key places. This is especially helpful if you’re giving a longer talk or have several points. People can easily lose track of the points you’ve covered, so periodically summarizing the points provides an easy-to-follow structure, and improves their retention of the content.
  3. Allow listeners to create a mental picture. Along with stories, use vivid word choices. If you’re giving a formal speech, you might use rhetorical devices like similes and metaphors to help listeners visualize your ideas.  Instead of saying, “I walked into the old store with its creaky floorboards and strange smell,” you might say instead “I walked into the old store, its floorboards creaking under the weight of time, smelling like a room that went for months without fresh air.”   See the difference? The listener can better sense what it was actually like to be in that room.  Using Power Point for delivery? Look at all of the places where you use bulleted lists and replace them with visuals wherever you can.
  4. Make room for pauses. Nerves or a tendency to speak quickly can cause you to race through your thoughts, but your listener needs time to process and comprehend your words. Slow down by creating natural places to pause. This usually works well between points or while telling a story. Combine pauses with summary to create a natural flow to your talk, give your listeners time to absorb your words, and remember your message.

Use these tips the next time you are giving a speech or presentation, running a meeting, or delivering your next virtual or live instructor-led course.

Learn more about you can book Amy to speak at your event on our Speaking page.

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