Speakers should incorporate all of the above tips into their delivery planning. At some point, they may choose to take their public speaking skills to the next level, so this chapter provides additional tips to help refine the speech’s delivery and increase the power of the message.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was well known for his frequent use of inclusive pronouns (we, us, and our) instead of singular pronouns (I, you, your, me, or mine). He understood that to invite an audience into his message, he needed to rearrange the language to make it subtly more inviting to them. Take a look at the following examples:
- Today, I will show you what I mean by inclusive pronouns being inviting.
- Today, we will look at how inclusive pronouns help us become more inviting.
Although each sentence essentially states the same core message, the second one has the tendency to draw an audience into it through its inviting language, while the first one almost creates a sort of psychological divide between the speaker and audience members. Strive to use inclusive pronouns when possible.
Strive for balance in all aspects of the speech’s delivery. When presenting serious or heavy material, seek to balance it out with lighter, more positive material. For instance, what if a person wished to discuss the atrocities of the Holocaust? Such a weighty topic needs to be treated seriously, but at the same time, an audience may find this topic emotionally draining, so how might the speaker balance it out? Though the speaker might spend the majority of the time speaking to the atrocities, near the end of the speech, however, the person could share an uplifting story of perseverance and survival despite the odds. Similarly, if the speech topic focuses on a humorous and lighthearted subject, seek to include research-based information that has serious value to it.
People that speak softly should look for ways to increase their intensity during important talking points. Likewise, those who have a booming voice that projects well should attempt to soften it a bit for more variety and impact. Stand still often? Try to get out from behind the podium and use the space. If the opposite’s true, then attempt to balance movement out patterns by standing still more often.
Every speech, at some point within the delivery, should attempt to deliver what some refer to as a “wow factor.” Think of this as a moment of highly memorable and profound brilliance that captivates the audience and potentially makes the hairs on their arm stand straight up. A wow factor could include any one of the following or a combination thereof:
- A powerfully gripping story, well told, that builds suspense and pays off with a satisfying ending. Such a story could begin in the intro, continue through the body of the speech, and conclude with an epic finish in the conclusion.
- A memorable and striking visual aid that perfectly encapsulates the main idea of the message and drives it home within the audience’s minds.
- The speaker’s personal appearance could potentially provide a wow factor, such as a speaker dressing and speaking like a zombie to discuss the importance of preparing for disasters.
- A startling fact that resonates with audience members, especially if it is powerful enough for them to want to share the fact with others outside of the context of the speaking engagement.
- A practical demonstration that shows people the content of the message, rather than merely telling them, such as a black belt in karate demonstrating a flying roundhouse kick.
- The general tone of the delivery could also provide a wow factor. A comedian named Anthony Griffith has a speech on YouTube, delivered for the storytelling project The Moth, where he talks about the year he lost his young daughter to cancer. His delivery covers a wide range of extreme emotions, using varied levels of intensity from soft-spoken to all-out rage, leaving audience members in tears by the end—and it lasts only nine minutes.