Words are powerful, and strung together, they can become speeches that mark or even make history.
Consider Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech, which he delivered to Congress right before the representatives decided the U.S. would officially enter World War II. The speech itself lives on, as even the paper its first draft was written on has been preserved – and is currently on display at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York until the end of the year. Visitors can see the phrase “world history” was scratched out and replaced with “infamy,” the word that would come to be the identifier of the entire speech.
While word choice can be critical, creating an effective speech, one that makes a lasting impression and reinforces a story, mission or message, requires a bit more. At their best, speeches are catalysts for action or change in perception. They can be useful tools for today’s politicians, corporate leaders and influencers to reach targeted audiences, amplify an organization’s purpose and create moments that bring a brand to life with meaning.
Below are five key elements that the RoseComm team has used to support our clients in getting the most out of the tried and true communications tool, the speech.
A great speech contains news.
While saying thank you to those who made the moment possible and introducing new faces in the crowd can be important acknowledgements, seize the opportunity to hook the audience by giving them a reason to keep listening. What is news? What can they expect to unfold in the near future? Treating your audience as if they are members of a trusted inner circle will get them engaged.
A great speech connects with the audience.
You or your spokesperson may have great points to make, but those points will fall on distracted ears, if you do not relate them to your audience. What does your audience care about and how does your organization’s mission complement those priorities? Conveying experiences and language that resonate with the audience will make your message more accessible, understandable and memorable.
A great speech amplifies the organization’s mission and core values.
Establishing and building a brand requires communicating a consistent story. Every organization should have a set of agreed-upon key messages that are weaved into all communications, including speeches. That does not mean repeating boilerplate statements, rather tailoring those key messages to fit the moment. How does the subject of the speech support the organization’s mission and core values?
A great speech reflects the unique style and voice of the speaker.
An organization may choose to designate one or two executives to serve as spokespeople and train those individuals in how to deliver the organization’s story. However, allowing and trusting those spokespeople to incorporate their own voice and style may help humanize the brand and make it more relatable to the audience.
A great speech is innovative.
There is no one way to write or deliver a great speech. Chances are everyone in your audience has heard a speech or two before, and so to make yours stand out, consider how all the elements – setting, timing, audience, partnerships and associations – can come together in a manner that is unexpected, yet reflects the brand. For example, many speeches start with an anecdote, but you may want to consider opening with company news, the results of an online poll, a video or question for the audience.
A great speech does more than tell a story; it demonstrates the meaning behind a brand. A communications pro can help identify and develop the goals for any speech. The first step is answering the question, how do you want your audience to remember you?