What Makes a Great Speech (and a Speaker)

A great speech is memorable, think Martin Luther King, "I Have a Dream", or Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you?" but if you are not a King or a Kennedy, what can you do to make a great speech?

"Not everyone wants to be a professional speaker,
but everyone needs to speak professionally."

 The opportunity to speak and share with an audience is a great honor, regardless of whether you are paid or not, and in my opinion, should be approached with reverence.

Having been speaking on stages around the world for nearly 25 years and being the President of two professional speaking associations, Singapore, and Spain, let me share some insights from the client's perspective.

Being a Great Speaker from the Client's Perspective

Every speech has an audience, and most speeches have a client. The client varies depending on the context, it might be a senior executive who wants you to land a message, or it's the company that booked you, but if you are paid to speak, it's definitely the person that ultimately foots the bill.

Speakers Bureaus, whose business it is to book speakers, tell me that their clients look for a speaker who is able to get the audience to 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙠 differently, 𝙛𝙚𝙚𝙡 differently, and 𝙖𝙘𝙩 differently. How hard could it be?

I recently received this LinkedIn recommendation from a client, and I will unpack it for you to see how you can give a great speech and be a great speaker.

 ”Andrew Bryant is an experienced and engaging speaker who has the ability to connect with his audience on a personal level.

His expertise in self-leadership, resilience, and change management is evident in his dynamic presentations that are both informative and inspiring.

His passion for helping people reach their full potential is compelling and makes him a great choice for any event that seeks to motivate and empower its attendees.” 
Fanny Sahl, Management Events

Regardless of the type or topic of your speech, you must engage the audience and you must be able to connect human to human. The client makes this the first point of her recommendation and in my experience, this is a non-negotiable for a great speech.

The maxim, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" will serve you well in your speech preparation. Be prepared to show your vulnerability, challenges, and perspectives in ways that are relevant to the audience. There is also a caveat here, don't do therapy on stage, make sure you have fully processed your emotions before sharing, or you will reinforce your trauma and traumatize the audience!

The next paragraph is about expertise. It should go without saying that you should know your stuff but just being an expert is not enough. Make your complex ideas simple to understand, and use storytelling to add emotion. Aim to be informative AND inspiring.

The client starts her third paragraph by talking about passion being compelling. Your speech or presentation will fail to motivate or empower if you neglect to include your passion. Finally, the mark of a great speech is that the audience members feel empowered to act.

In Summary and Conclusion

Public speaking is reported to be the number one fear or phobia but when you give a great speech the feeling is amazing and there is no greater opportunity to inform, influence, and impact.

I am grateful to be able to share my insights on self-leadership and leadership as a Global Keynote Speaker and to mentor professionals who want to make an impact. If you want to find out more about developing yourself as a professional speaker then I recommend you join an association. I live in Portugal but I am currently President of the Professional Speakers Association of Spain.





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