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Being able to give the big speech pays big dividends

There's new media, old media -- and then there's that most ancient of all media, the big speech.

There's new media, old media -- and then there's that most ancient of all media, the big speech.

The stagecraft behind pep talking an audience of hundreds may seem archaic and quaint alongside light-speed Twitter feeds and RSS scrolls, but career counsellors say you're still more likely to wow industry insiders and forge your rep in the spotlight than you are behind the sickly glow of a laptop screen.

"It never ceases to amaze me that intelligent, well-educated, and ambitious individuals overlook the number one skill that will put them ahead of the competition, and that is the ability to stand up and speak eloquently with confidence,” public speaking expert Patricia Fripp says.

The key to a keynote, she says, is to start with a pad, plus a pen, and a plan. Compose what speech coach Elayne Snyder calls your "speech statement of purpose."

"Decide, are you going to motivate, inform, or convince them?" she elaborates. "The trick is to say to yourself, 'I want to give them the gift of information.'"

That means strutting on stage with a distinguished sense of what your audience already apprehends.

"Never tell an audience anything they know or assume," Fripp cautions.

Instead, draft your top scoop into the introduction, then harp on it in your conclusion.

"You absolutely must, if nothing else, script the opening and the close,” she emphasizes. "Very few people, including executives, know how to start and stop."

The other 80 per cent of the speech can be from the hip, not the script -- but it has
to be concise, Snyder says.

"Never tell people more than three points because they'll never remember it," she warns. "Introduce your point, use an anecdote, a case history, or statistics to explain it, then repeat your point the same way you introduced it.”

"Do two or three of those and you've got a gorgeous speech," she adds.

For Fripp, the most irksome verbal burp speech rookies let loose on the grandstand isn’t "um," "like," or "ya know" -- it's "I."

"An audience, whether it’s one person or one thousand, cares about itself," she stresses. "So you need to use you-focused language, like 'thank you for the opportunity to discuss how you can,' and so on."

 
 
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