Speech Guidance and “The power of Three” x3.

Many people seek speech guidance and often the ones that need it most never do. However, there is an also apparent cliché that most things to do with public speaking are set to the power of three, but why is this?

Well here are nine speech power of threes for you to consider. In my role as both trainer and public speaker, I use all of them regularly. Hopefully they will help you (even if it breaks its own rule!)

1. Beginning, Middle and End.

This may seem really obvious, but it is important that when you structure a speech, that there is some kind of an “arc” to get you from beginning to end.  You should consider beginning with an introduction which gives you credibility to speak. This is followed by the middle – the key information you wish to impart. Finally, you need to summarise. This should highlight to listeners of the key points you have covered and leave them with something to remember your talk by or a call to action.

2. Research, rehearse and react.

Know your audience, know your messages and gauge their reaction. This really applies to any kind of speech. From the best man at a wedding to a speaker at a symposium, know who your audience is, know what you want to impart and do not outstay your welcome. A thing to remember is that even the best attention span is normally limited to about 17 minutes.

3. Engage, enthuse and animate.

How do you engage your audience? The best way I have always found is to ask them questions, both rhetorical and otherwise. Make them part of your presentation, this has a habit of making them feel included as well as being more likely to make them feel enthused. If you are also naturally animated, and by this I do not mean bouncing all over the stage or walking backwards and forward in a metronomic fashion, this will help hold people’s attention. Using visuals also helps keep attention. 

4. The 3 “keep its”.

Your content needs to be concise, relevant and easy to understand. Deliver the information and messages in your presentation in as clear and concise a manor as possible. Do not overload your sentences with jargon or give too much information potentially resulting in confusion, overwhelm and disengagement.

5. Don’t patronize (or insult), better to self-deprecate and educate

The biggest way to turn off an audience is to treat them in an inappropriate way. This can include the telling of jokes. Humour is tricky, if only because there is a strong possibility that many people do not share your sense of humour and in cross-cultural settings this can be particularly challenging. If you are a comedian and your audience has paid to see you, they know what they are letting themselves in for. However, you are not and so therefore it has to be treated with care. Humour used appropriately can be a great way to engage people – especially using irony and self-deprecation can be powerful. The key here is to think about your audience and be very careful in how and when you use humour.

6. Drop down twice, then the only way is up. 

Slow it down. Be aware of how you naturally speak. We all speed up when under pressure. If you have an important point that needs to be made, make sure you slow down your speech, lower your voice slightly and then pause, allowing what it is you have just said to land, before carrying on in your normal tone. 

7. Not like this, not even like that, but LIKE THIS!

Many of you I am sure will have had the pleasure of hearing Barack Obama speak. He is an exquisite orator, and clearly one of the best. He also has some pretty extraordinary speech writers working for him who understand
the way he delivers a speech and this includes regularly using “the power of three technique” for making a point. This is where he builds up a situation with two lesser facts before driving home with the most important fact. Very memorable and very effective.

8. No more than 3 points – or they will start to forget the first.

I mentioned self-deprecation earlier. Well, like most humans, I can only really remember the last few things I am told, so for goodness sake do not give me a long list of things. Three key points are about the maximum we can remember. Wherever possible, try not to exceed three main points in your presentation that you want your audience to take away with them and act on. If you do have more then you will need a handout.

9. Practice, practice, practice

This may sound cliched but there really is no substitute for practice. Quite often when I write a speech, I write it out as many as three times. This will not only help me get the structure right, but it will also help me remember. So if necessary get in front of a mirror and practice, or record yourself so you can play back and see what does or doesn’t work, but above all whatever you do, practice.

Speech Guidance – A Bonus.

Where to practice, practice, practice! 

The most structured and safe environment to learn, enhance and to practice your skills as a speaker is by joining your local Toastmasters Inc. Club. These are found all over the world. To find your nearest club go to www.toastmasters.org

James Hasler is a professional event host and moderator, as well as presntation skills and public speaker trainer. He presents all over Europe and the UK and provides presentation and public speaking skills training to both individual and corporate clients.

If you would like to improve your presentation or public speaking skills and grow in confidence, then please contact him at info@haslerhillconsulting.co.uk or by phone at +44 (0)7773 229909.

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