One of the most important aspects you can remember about the art of speaking is: ‘what’s loose is lost’! This simply means that the content is not tied to anything. Every single point you make should be tied to an anchor. An anchor is essentially anything that helps your audience remember your points. There are many types of anchors, but the following four bring the most success.
The Four A’s for Anchors
- Anecdote: When you tell a story and make your point, people will remember the point because of the story.
- Analogy: The audience will remember your point when they can easily compare it with something else. Analogies work well when you present them visually and verbally.
- Acronym: When you use an acronym, people can hang the points onto the letters in that acronym which will make it really easy to remember. It also helps with the structure of the speech since your audience will know you’ll go from one letter to the next.
- Activity: When people reflect on the activity, they recall the point as well.
Anchoring your points will lead to a great speech, but without great delivery, it can still fall flat.
The three most common mistakes you can make in your delivery are: pacing, preaching, and the pursuit of perfection.
If you’re pacing around the stage, you are likely moving without a purpose. Speaking is about clarity and pacing or moving without purpose destroys that. The key is to create a picture with your speech and draw the audience into your scene. Think about storytelling as a series of scenes and your movements on stage help enhance those scenes. There are three big reasons to move on stage:
- Action: The action in your story prompts the movements on stage. For example, if the character is at home, each room can be a different area of the stage. The only key is that you have to remember where every room is on the stage or the audience can get confused.
- Another reason to move around the stage is to create a timeline or the passage of time. For example, if the story happens over a number of years, you can start at a point of the stage and move across with the passage of time. Remember that we read a timeline from left to right, so onstage, you must do the opposite and move right to left.
- Moving on the stage can also be done to help with the structure of your speech. For example, if you have three points, they can each be delivered from different areas of the stage. They not only hear the points, but they see them too.
It’s important to understand that telling the audience something in a forceful manner can come across as a know it all. The key is to be conversational and let the stories and activities make the points. The best way to do this is: Don’t Tell, Ask! For example, don’t assume people procrastinate, ask them if they do and by asking, you provide the opportunity for them to reflect. “Have you ever procrastinated”, is much more powerful.
What questions can you think of that will allow the audience to reflect on your points? Start with “Have you, or have you considered, or have you thought about …” That will transform preaching into conversation.
Pursuit of Perfection
It’s not about perfection, it’s about connection. You never want to memorize a speech because when you do that, it’s too easy to come across as inauthentic. The key is to not memorize, but internalize. If you are going to memorize anything, know which anchor is coming next and how to transition in and out, that’s it.
As a speaker, you should always be focused on helping the audience and when you’re too focused on being perfect, you’re too focused on yourself and cannot connect with the audience. Don’t strive for perfection, strive for a connection. Perfection sucks!
Try these techniques and your next speech or presentation is sure to resonate!