The speeches you give as a leader should
reflect and promote your leadership style and objectives.
Leadership speeches build on the four
principles of great speaking as set forth by Demosthenes, the father of
Greek oratory. (My book, Real Leaders
Don't Do PowerPoint, is divided into four sections which develop
these ideas in greater depth).
You don't have to be president of the United States or even
president of your own company. You do, however, have to be the best, most
authentic you you can be. Everything about who you are — your character
and reputation, your personality and style, your values and even your sense of
humor — shapes the message your audience hears when you speak. Don't hide off
to the side of the stage in semi-darkness, hoping people will ignore you and
look at your PowerPoint slides instead. Position yourself in such a way that you
demand people's attention. Speak from your experience without
necessarily speaking about yourself. Tell your own story in such a way
that it illustrates your audience's experience and aspirations.
- A Great Person
A Noteworthy Event
The event — the time and place, the room set up, the schedule, the
audience, the occasion and its purpose — can either support and reinforce your
message or sabotage it. So pay attention to every detail. Say no to
invitations to speak at events that would reflect poorly on you or your
organization. Don't simply accept what's being planned. As a leader you have the
power and responsibility to make not just your speech, but the event a success.
A Compelling Idea
Content is king. When you're finished speaking you don't want people
remembering or commenting on your delivery, your style, or — worse — your
PowerPoint slides. You want them thinking about and discussing your ideas. A
compelling idea is made up of three components:
Big Idea: Present one — and only one —
big idea per speech. Make it clear, bold, and engaging.
Clear Structure: Build your speech on a
strong outline, tying the pieces together in a simple, logical way. Remember —
if you confuse people, they'll stop listen to you and they'll never do what you
ask of them.
Telling Words: Build your speech around
nouns and active verbs. When given the choice between longer, more
impressive-sounding words and shorter, more concrete ones, choose the latter.
A Masterful Delivery
Delivery involves using your body and your voice to
communicate your message. It's not just technique. It's about projecting
your authentic self as powerfully as possible. Aim always to use your natural
voice and gestures — only be bigger and louder.
You may be a leader or an aspiring leader. You may or may not have the title
and position. But you can still use the principles that leaders use when they
speak in order to influence and inspire your audiences.
If you'd like help developing leadership speeches, consider working with
Chris Witt, an executive speech coach
based in San Diego.