Make a speech that is clear to your audience
Why are some speeches so memorable? Why does the message stick in our minds? Why do some speakers move you to take action?
The success of any presentation depends on three broad categories. They are delivery, speech content, and language.
According to Toastmasters International Speech Contest Judge’s Guide and Ballot, the scoring is as follows; content 50 percent, delivery 30 percent, and language 20 percent.
Content accounts for 50 out of 100 points possible on the judging ballot. Of those 50 points,
20 are dedicated to speech development (structure, organization, and support material)
15 to speech effectiveness (interest, reception, and achievement of purpose),
15 to speech value (ideas, originality, and logic).
Though we focus on the content here, the three categories are not mutually exclusive as they all contribute to an effectively communicated speech.
1 Speech development (structure, organization, and support material)
A speech should have a beginning, body, and conclusion.
The introduction opens the speech with an attention grabber. It can be a quotation, a visual aid, a dramatic opening, a story to set the background for the latter part of the speech, etc.
A good speaker may use it to comment about his topic, put across his objectives clearly, establish his credentials, and /or get acquainted with his audience by asking questions.
This should not be lengthy as the audience expects the speaker to launch into the speech soon. Moreover, the attention span of the listeners is limited.
The introduction for a speech should take about 10 to 15% of the entire speech time. This means if the speaker expects to talk for about 5 minutes, his introduction should be no more than 45 seconds.
The key is to rein in their attention immediately and garner their interest.
The body of the speech is the meat of the whole delectable meal which is the presentation. This is where speech organization is important.
In a contest speech that is usually 7 minutes, there should be about 3 main points (max 4) to make them memorable. Each point should have a clear and concise story that should be backed up with evidence, an anecdote, statistics, or a survey.
The points are listed as 1, 2, and 3 to make each part succinct. Under each point, the speaker would narrate in detail with an anecdote that could be based on your own story, an observation, other people’s experiences. From one idea to the next, there should be a pause to allow the message to sink into the audience’s minds.
This pause can be made effective by using words like “In addition..”, “ Moreover..”, “ Furthermore..”, etc to ensure a smooth transition of the narrative.
When making the next point, the speaker should have a clear transition like a signpost. The speaker could say, “ The next point is…” or “ My number 2 point is….” The audience is guided to be aware that the first main point has been elaborated and should be ready to listen to the second main point.
If the next point is final, the speaker could announce it as, “My final point is..” or “The third and last point is…”, etc
The main points would clearly guide the audience to a clear understanding of the story that supports the speaker’s theme and objectives of his speech. The audience knows that the presentation is about to end and awaits a conclusion.
In the conclusion, the speaker may summarize the points mentioned briefly and make a strong appeal for action. It is important for the speaker to tie the speech to his objectives so that the audience leaves with a strong message and is persuaded to carry out a worthy cause.
A conclusion should be about 5% of the total speech length. Anything less means that the speaker has ended the speech abruptly and is likely to lose the impact of his or her message.
Too long a conclusion will leave the audience restless and going of a tangent to start a new point is definitely not good.
2. Speech effectiveness (Interest, reception, and achievement of the purpose)
The speaker should carefully select a topic that is of interest to the audience after finding out their demographic, interests, and background. Ask yourself;
Is the topic current? — A topic that involves most of us and that we can resolve by participating would generate interest.
Is the topic taboo? — Issues on race, politics, religion and some sensitive social issues should not be in your department as a commoner.
Is resolution possible — People would like to know if they can be in control of a situation so a topic that is outside their means to resolve would hardly be useful.
3 Speech value (ideas, originality, and logic)
The speaker should choose a topic that provides value to the listener in the respect that they received a better insight into a situation, are enlightened and hopefully motivated to carry out an action that benefits others as well.
Speech that scores are the ones that are original and not plagiarized from any books or articles on the internet. It should preferably be novel in its ideas or concepts. Having humor has a great plus point as people love a good laugh. The speech should also have a logical flow of narration without any preposterous suggestions or theories.
Finally, in addition to Speech content, if the speaker works equally well on the category of delivery as well as language use, the result would certainly be a winning speech in the contest.