Top Ten Tips for Writing and Delivering Very Brief Speeches
"Be Good, Be Brief, and Be Seated"
Bill Cole, MS, MA
You've probably heard the well-known old joke about letter
"This is a very long letter because I did not have time to
write a short one."
It exactly applies to when you are giving a short talk.
In the speech game, if you don't take the time to craft a
tight, focused presentation before you deliver a short talk,
you will lose your audience. You may also lose your reputation.
For any length speech you have to craft the talk well, practice
it well and deliver it well. This is true for ANY length presentation,
but unfortunately, speakers often treat a brief talk as inconsequential.
"This is only a five-minute talk, so I'll just wing it. No
need to practice such a short speech." they think. This mind
set can lead to disaster. Smart speakers know better. They
treat ALL talks as important.
Let's take a look at the ten most critical features of crafting
and delivering short speeches.
1. The writing for shorter speeches has to be better than
for long ones. You have less time to get your critical message
2. You must make sure the audience gets the central core theme
of your message...and right away.
3. You have no luxury of "warming up" your audience as you
sometimes can do in a longer talk or seminar. You must "make
the first impression the best".
4. You have no time for wandering around or chaff. Go off
on a tangent and in a flash your time will be up and you will
be sitting down...with your audience wondering what in the
world you just said.
5. If you are disorganized, you will trail past your stop
time, and no one likes that. Not the audience, the promoter,
or the other speakers to follow you.
6. So you don't anonymously blend in with all the other speakers
that will come before and after you, you have to create something
different that will help you stand out and be memorable.
7. The logical flow of your talk must be tighter than in a
longer talk, or your audience will perceive you simply as
a 5 minute blatherer.
8. Your talk must be better memorized, because you'll have
no time to develop it as you go, or to use audience interaction
or other speech devices to help you remember your material.
9. You have to "play off of" the previous speaker so you get
the audience's attention quickly. If your style is the same
as what they just heard, they may easily tune you out.
10. You have to "make the ask", just as in any other length
speech. Some wise person said, "There is only one purpose
in giving a speech, and that is to get the audience to think
differently, feel differently or act differently." Know how
you want the audience to change as a result of your time on
the platform, and you will very likely hit the mark with them.
BONUS TIP: Many speakers want to "tell everything they
know" about a subject. In a day long seminar, this may be
somewhat possible. Never in a speech of an hour length. In
a speech shorter than that, it's a disaster. You will never
get going and your audience will wonder what just happened.
Instead, keep your message to the point, on target and laser-focused.
For every 15 minutes of platform time, the smart, dedicated
speaker has spent an hour in development, rehearsal and preparation.
It makes a difference. As a famous violinist said, "When I
do not practice for three days, my audience can tell. When
I do not practice for two days, my orchestra can tell. When
I do not practice for one day, I can tell". So it goes with
speech making. You want your audience to applaud you, think
well of you and act on your message. Doing all that takes
some doing on your part.
To learn more about how presentation coaching can help you
become a better, more confident speaker, visit Bill Cole,
MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach at www.mentalgamecoach.com/Services/PresentationCoaching.html.
Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2005, 2008 All rights reserved.
This article covers only one small part of the mental game.
A complete mental training program includes motivation and
goal-setting, pre-event mental preparation, post-event review
and analysis, mental strengthening, self-regulation training,
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This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths
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the basis for a program you undertake with Bill Cole, MS,
MA to improve your mental game. This assessment would be an
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your mental game of speaking and giving presentations.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness
and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching
Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports.
He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published
book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive
article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
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