“We are in an age of unprecedented change, it’s a ‘revolutionary’ time to be alive! The question we need to be asking ourselves is - ‘Am I leading that change?’ I believe we all have a choice to step up into personal, professional and social leadership. We have a choice to become agents for change, amplifiers, thought leaders to upgrade our thinking and lead our very own revolutions.”

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Entries in Speech Writing (4)


Think before you speak - 7 questions you can ask yourself before your next speech

Before you open your mouth to speak, there are some questions you need to develop answers for, think of this as the pre-work for any speech.

7 Great Questions

1. The context
If you could summarise your speech in one word (x), what is it about?

2. The key points
What 3, 5 or 7 points are you hoping to make about that context (x)?

3. Importance
Why is context (x) important? This is all about answering the question, why this message?

4. Urgency
Now that you have established that (x) is important, you need to make it urgent. So, why do we need to care about (x) now? Note: You will see at this point we are not discussing your points, simply the big picture context of your speech. This can normally be summarised in one word.

5. Problems (common)
What common problem/challenge or aspiration does the audience have that needs to be fixed?

6. Problems (deeper)
What deeper problem do they have to fix that your speech addresses?

7. Prescriptions
What actions can the audience take after your presentation that will make a difference with (x)? (List 3 things the audience can do immediately to make a difference around (x))

Anyone can speak to drive business, they just need to learn the formula's.



Structure your speech to ensure an outcome

When speaking, to influence a room or suggest a specific course of action after your speech, the Drive Speech Structure works best. If you were selling a service, this would be the perfect structure to choose. This is a very linear speech and steps through six key stages:

1. Question
2. Problem
3. Cause
4. Substantiation
5. Implications
6. Invitation

First, you post your main idea (Contextual Mantra) as a question. You may, in a small group, allow for some discussion around this question in the audience. This can work well in a panel situation with each panelist responding to the question in a way that refines the topic. Your tone in this stage should be interesting and enquiring.

Then, spend a fair amount of time unpacking the problem that you will eventually present a solution to. Don’t rush this; many people are uncomfortable sitting in the problem stage for very long, but this is where the audience experiences the tension that precedes your welcome solution. Your tone in this stage should be compassionate and empathetic.

Next, you start to explain the causes of the problem defined in stage two. Here, you might draw diagrams and explain fundamental principles at play. This is a good time to move to a flip chart and turn on a ‘teaching’ style. For each defined problem, it is a good idea to have a few causes combine to create the problem. Your tone should be academic and a little detached.

After the causal stage, you step into a short period of ‘proving’. Substantiate your claims and link evidence to your shared perspectives. Your tone in this stage should be confident and certain.

This is the stage where you unpack the implications of change not occurring (or you not being taken up on the invitation). During this stage, you are making the issue a personal one for the audience. Explain to them how a denial of the problem will cause more damage in the long run. It’s about relevance and personal meaning. Be gentle and approachable when delivering this section.

The final stage of the Drive Structure is to make an invitation of some kind. This can be as overt as walking through the features and benefits of a product, or the details of an offer, through to a gentle suggestion that they get in touch with you. The better you have delivered the first four stages, the less you will need to push at the fifth.

P.S. Come and learn how to piece together this speech structure during my Drive Your Business Through Speaking Workshop on Friday 18 November.


The Mathematics of Retention

Too often when speaking in public, presenters try to give you all of their information. To be world class, don’t make too many points within your speech. Five points, give or take up to two, is the rule. We tend to retain what we can count on one hand. Presenters who presume to teach 21 tips in 21 minutes are pretty content-centred, and do not really respect the mathematics of retention.

Some tips:

1. Have 3-7 core messages to your presentation
2. Every 7-15 minutes or so, introduce a new point
3. Always have less rather than more. Fear makes us over-prepare content
4. Have a “bare bones” version of your speech prepared with 1-3 points only
5. Always have one overarching point for every speech, and make this very clear

Less is more.



Book Covers, Billboards and Movie Trailers

Billboard thinking versus manuscript selling...

How would you describe your idea if it had to be put on a billboard or book cover?

What would you say?

And maybe more importantly, what would you not say?

How would you let me know just enough to be interested but not so much that I am confused?

This kind of thinking forces you to assess ‘What's in it for them?'

Every great idea needs to be positioned first, explained second. Position it in my world by explaining 'How it makes a difference to me. How does it make something better, faster or cheaper (or maybe all three)?'

If you are having trouble selling your ideas it's because you might be saying too much. You might be serving not selling. Don't give me a manuscript when you explain your big idea, give me the front and back cover. If that doesn't get me then more information is not going to make a difference. It's the same with movie's… the trailer makes me go, the movie is what I buy.

First I get into it - then I get it!

Matt Church

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