You are in the middle of a sea of sweaty, stuffy air. Your backside fell numb about five minutes ago as the commencement speaker finally takes the podium. Some 5 hours later, you think, “Oh thank goodness, it’s finally over…”
If you’re like me, that’s how I remember my graduation and how I approach every ceremony—that is, until last week. Champlain College in Vermont didn’t have stars or leading politicians. But it did offer a public speaking clinic from the class speaker to the key note—if you were paying attention. When you give a speech at work, at a family reunion or at your daughter’s wedding, do you want to people to say that you gave a nice or memorable speech? Enough said. So, in this first of five talks, we start with, ‘What factors will make your speech memorable?’
THE 5 FACTORS THAT MAKE YOU A MEMORABLE SPEAKER
Let’s be clear, it’s not only what you say; it’s more about how and when you say it. To reach an entire audience, you must match everyone’s personal styles (learning styles—visual, auditory and kinesthetic) with your word choice, tempo and inflection. You engage and connect when you touch upon, echo and paint words that reach everyone. Once you’ve got your audience, you take us on a ride anywhere, and we willingly follow—and we remember the journey.
Hey, do you remember your first roll-a-coaster ride? Exciting, terrifying, hysterical? Sickening? We often only remember things, including speakers, when it is emotional. So, make us care about because you care about what you’re saying. Be honest and show your true selves. Emit passion, compassion and energy, and we can’t help but get caught up with your emotions because it sparks something inside of us—and we remember how it felt.
Humor me while I define “good” humor for public speaking. (Hey, I like bad puns. Oh the groans and moans—um, we are still talking about humor here—right?) While we may not be Jay Leno, the best speakers do use some tried and true methods. First, always be the butt of your own jokes (Period.) Try taking a common saying or cliché and spin it. When a splash of laughter hits, you create a ripple that flows out through us that we want to pass it along to our friends and family. And we can, because we remember it.
The art of story-telling is a life-long pursuit, and luckily, for us, it is also something we practice daily. At the heart of every story is a surprise: What? Why? How come? Do you like to hear a spoiler to a movie or book? Noooo. It unveils the surprise of the story, too early. We want to know, but not too soon. Build some suspense by focusing on details on what you felt, heard and saw. (Looks, sounds or feels familiar?) Tell it as if you are sharing it with friends. Above all else—tell a story because stories are ingrained in our psyche—and we remember them.
Oh wait, the fifth factor is be special??? That's not so easy. Actually, it is easier than you think because you just need to Be yourself and be bold. Being yourself makes you comfortable, which enables you to use words fluently or confidently set up a joke. Then you can add that something special; something that is and can only come from you. Too many people half-ass it because they are afraid to fail. WARNING here's a spoiler: Safe is forgettable. So be bold by being yourself!
This spring, you may be lucky enough to find yourself in a hard, plastic chair or bleacher. (Quick Tip—Sit in the back row for fresh air and walk to the front when you need to take pictures.) If so, certainly enjoy the ceremony, but if want to try something daring: Pick one area where the keynote says or does something outstanding—engaging words, touching the heart, setting up a joke or leading you through a story. Then steal it (hey—he learned it from a she, trust me), try it and make it your own. Then…
STOP, and remember this: Failure is someone else’s misguided term for your FEEDBACK.
So, be bold, try something and improve it the next time. When you merge yourself with these tools, your next speech has a chance at being great or at something even better—memorable!
As always, I wish you the best in making each day count!~ Tyke
PS. Remember, if you are not lucky enough to attend a ceremony in person, check back here for what, I think, are outstanding techniques for using language that connects, injecting emotion, delivering humor and captivating story-telling.