The art of giving a speech

Credibility and interesting content are not always enough. You also have to win people's hearts.

LEADERS TOOLBOX: Communication for leaders

The art of holding a speech to win people over to your side is a classic skill known as rhetoric. It gives you the opportunity to play on three factors: your credibility (ethos), subject matter (logos) and the public's emotions (pathos).

Unfortunately, credibility and interesting content are not always enough. You also need to speak to people's hearts. That means you have to dare to put yourself out there and show your commitment. It is well worth letting yourself be inspired by the most articulate speakers.

What can we learn from the best speakers, politicians and other skilled presenters?

14 tips for rousing speeches

Here is a checklist with 14 practical tips you can use to deliver a speech that will enthuse your audience:

1. Be yourself! Play on your own strengths. Don’t attempt to imitate others. If you do, you will quickly lose your credibility.

2. Decide what you want to achieve. What do you want the speech to accomplish?

3. Concentrate on one or a few key messages.

4. Tell your audience what you are going to talk about, then say it and summarise the points you want people to take home with them.

5. A speech is not dependent on presentation tools. Try doing without. A good story well told trumps PowerPoint!

6. Think about the audience's emotions. What is the audience interested in, and what are their concerns? How can you present your message so that they identify with it?

7. You can hardly practice enough before you give your speech! Practice in front of others, preferably someone who can represent the audience you will be speaking to. Be sure to get honest, constructive feedback.

8. Capture your audience's attention from the moment you are in the ring.

9. Show that you know who you're talking to. The best politicians are really good at this.

10. Introduce yourself, both professionally and personally.

11. Break the ice! Engage the audience.

12. Spice up your speech with small, personal stories.

13. Feel free to use physical objects to illustrate your point.

14. Think of a strong finish with a call to action.



This article is published Dagsavisen (in Norwegian) on August 25, 2015.

Published 21. September 2015

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