Martin, tell them about the dream! I saw it with my own eyes.
How to Give a Speech Without Crying? 10 great tips
I was not on the stage, Dr. King speak many times in churches throughout the country, but [at the March on Washington] there was something kind of mystical. He had transformed. Oh my God, something had taken over his body. Jones believes that intensity came from the challenge of asking America to live up to its ideals just four months after the nation had been confronted with horrifying photographs and television footage of African-American adults and children being faced down with police dogs and fire hoses in Birmingham, Ala.
That question is: what kind of country are we? The speech was a call to the soul of America. If you know what your speech is about—and it should be about one thing—you should have an easy time deciding on an opening. Get right into the story and let the audience know what your talk will be about. Use body language that makes you appear comfortable. If you show signs of nervousness, like crossing your arms, or clutching your hands in front of your stomach, your audience will sense your trepidation and be less open to your message.
Stand up straight.
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Whether you walk across the stage or stand behind a lectern, try to maintain good posture. Articulate your words, regardless of your natural speaking style. On the other hand, you can be your best self. Any number of delivery styles will work. Practice your speech beforehand. Work the room. Try to speak to audience members before your speech, so that you can focus on few friendly faces, particularly if you get nervous.
You want to see your talk as a series of conversations with different people throughout the room. In a TED Talk about the intelligence of crows, for instance, the scientist showed a clip of a crow bending a hook to fish a piece of food out of a tube—essentially creating a tool. It illustrated his point far better than anything he could have said. Used well, video can be very effective, but there are common mistakes that should be avoided. Anything with a soundtrack can be dangerously off-putting. The people in your audience are already listening to you live; why would they want to simultaneously watch your talking-head clip on a screen?
The tricky part about rehearsing a presentation in front of other people is that they will feel obligated to offer feedback and constructive criticism. Often the feedback from different people will vary or directly conflict. In general, the more experience a person has as a presenter, the better the criticism he or she can offer. I learned many of these lessons myself in So he invited me to give one, and I accepted.
Even though I spend time helping others frame their stories, framing my own in a way that felt compelling was difficult. I really thought I might bomb. I was nervous right up until the moment I took the stage. But it ended up going fine. Here are some common mistakes that TED advises its speakers to avoid. Take a really long time to explain what your talk is about. Speak slowly and dramatically. Why talk when you can orate? Make sure you subtly let everyone know how important you are.
Refer to your book repeatedly. Even better, quote yourself from it. Cram your slides with numerous text bullet points and multiple fonts. Use lots of unexplained technical jargon to make yourself sound smart. Speak at great length about the history of your organization and its glorious achievements.
Never, ever make eye contact with anyone in the audience. Ultimately I learned firsthand what our speakers have been discovering for three decades: Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk.
Decline the invitation. The single most important thing to remember is that there is no one good way to do a talk. The most memorable talks offer something fresh, something no one has seen before. The worst ones are those that feel formulaic. Take the bulk of it on board, sure.
But make the talk your own.
How to Give a Speech
Play to your strengths and give a talk that is truly authentic to you. Chris Anderson is the curator of TED. Chris Anderson. View more from the June Issue Explore the Archive.
1. Strip it down.
Plan your delivery decide whether to memorize your speech word for word or develop bullet points and then rehearse it—over and over. Put it together play to your strengths and be authentic. From Report: Literal, Informational, Factual, Exhaustive… Research Findings If your goal is to communicate information from a written report, send the full document to the audience in advance, and limit the presentation to key takeaways.
Product Launch Instead of covering only specs and features, focus on the value your product brings to the world. Keynote Address Formal talks at big events are high-stakes, high-impact opportunities to take your listeners on a transformative journey.
Elsbach Coming up with creative ideas is easy; selling them to strangers is hard. A version of this article appeared in the June issue of Harvard Business Review. Want to see the other articles in this list? Subscribe Now I'm already a subscriber. Sign In Forgot Password? I'm a subscriber, but I don't have an HBR.
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