As a long time Toastmaster, I’ve heard hundreds of speeches over the years. Many have been good, a few have been great, and some have literally been a waste of time. What makes the difference between a good speech and a great speech? While many books and articles have been written on the subject, I think the process can be distilled down to four specific items that are easy to remember.
I call this the Four H guide to speech evaluations. While I’ve heard similar concepts from others here is my take on the subject. You can stand in front of a mirror and act this out.
1. Head: Make me think. This is the facts and figures of a speech. Give me the data. Make it compelling. Give me your unique take on the subject. Don’t repeat tired phrases or old manifestos. Bring me fresh ideas… make me think!
2. Heart: Make me feel. Add emotion to your speech. Bring me into your story. Give me unique characters, with names and personalities. Give me cause and effect. Give me the problem as well as the solution. Give me contrast… what is and what could be. Bottom Line… If I don’t feel it, I won’t remember it.
3. Hands: Ask me to take action. I’ve heard so many good speeches over the years that have left this important point out. The speaker gives me facts. They may even give me emotion and make a great case for their cause or project. But when the speech is over, they haven’t done the most important thing. They haven’t asked me to take action. If you don’t close the sale, you’ve wasted your time… and mine.
4. Humor: Make me smile. Adding some humor to your presentation makes it real. It takes that serious over the top edge off of it. Whether it’s a joke, a humorous story, a funny quote, always lighten things up a little with some humor. Your audience will thank you. Just be careful, a little humor goes a long ways.
Overall: If you follow this simple guide, you’ll have the basis for a great speech. You’ll better engage your audience, give them something heart felt to remember, and offer them a way to participate. And if you leave them with a smile along the way, you’ll have completed your job!