To make a speech, all you need is three things. You need your authentic voice, your warm heart and an occasion. That occasion may be one that has been scheduled and expected for a while. For example, someone leaving your team or the launch of a new project. It may also be a difficult turn of events, necessitating lay-offs or the buy-out of the business. Your speech accompanies a newsworthy event; whether that newsworthiness is external or internal to your organization.
Differentiating between presentations and speeches
But many people confuse speeches with presentations and presentations with speeches.
What’s the difference between a presentation and a speech?
They are quite distinct. Here’s how:
Unlike presentations, of which you’ve probably attended more than you care to count, speeches are written to mark an event. They are therefore meaningful, memorable and often moving. A speech is more formal than a presentation, and probably more scripted and rehearsed. A speech is also made just once; a presentation can be repeated. Finally, a speech is unique to the orator and is not passed around a department for someone else to replicate.
Different in nature to a presentation, a speech is not accompanied by any visual supports. It is written to be delivered in a polished way, much more so than your ‘stand and deliver’ presentation.
How to succeed as a speechmaker
As the orator, you are encouraged to speak from your heart and with a strong sense of self. The more emotional appeal, visual imagery and rhetoric-heavy language, the better. Anecdotes and vignettes are a must.
Your authentic voice that you must tap into is a reflection of your connection to the subject matter of your speech. You have to courageously share your personal reflections, your emotions and your insights, so that others can relate to what you are thinking and feeling, and so that they can find meaning and direction in your words.
You also want to make sure that you’re linking your well-structured flow to the purpose of your speech. It may seem basic, but you have to remind your audience at specific points why you are making a speech and why they should be listening. Techniques such as asking rhetorical questions, signposting and summarizing help keep your audience with you.
Let your voice be heard and your heart be open
To make your speech sound polished, but not scripted and merely read out loud, is an art too. Only you can decide whether you’re confident enough to speak without the full text written out, or whether you can commit the entire speech to memory. Or perhaps you’ll compromise by relying on a few bullet points and well-worded soundbites written on a piece of paper. Opening with impact and closing with impact, cleverly linking the beginning and the end with a theme, helps ensure a confident delivery.
Rare is the gifted orator who can just take to a podium without a script or many rehearsals before the occasion. For most speechmakers, the necessity of rehearsing, getting feedback and refining the speech is the most important part of their preparation phase. Structure and words are important, but the delivery - letting your true voice be heard, your heart be open and your expression come in a natural and genuine way - is most important to your speech’s success.
Interested in improving your speechmaking skills? iOpener offers 'Drafting & Delivering Speeches' workshops and 'Speechmaking Coaching' sessions. Get in touch with us to find out how we can support you.