Make a Good Speech Great

When you think of famous speeches given by a woman — who comes to mind? Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, Arianna Huffington and J.K. Rowling are just a few women who, in my opinion, have delivered great speeches. A great speech captures my attention when it contains elements of conversation, paired with confidence, poise and an organized line of thoughts.

How does one deliver a great speech? As coordinator of New York Women In Communication Twitter chats, I had the opportunity to connect with corporate communications writer Cynthia Hanson. She offered insight on “How To Make a Good Speech Great.” Cynthia is a speechwriter who has written speeches for executives in some of America’s leading companies and universities, as well as for individuals giving TED Talks.

When asked, what makes a good speech great, Cynthia’s first response; “Storytelling!” She insists to include “a clear beginning, middle, and end and a sense of urgency, expertise, and truth.” There is a difference between a good speech and a great speech. A good speech is “meh,” Cynthia says. “A great speech is memorable, life-changing and exhilarating.”

Cynthia shared the followings tips on how to deliver a great speech:

Good preparation: “Map out all the points that must be made. Circle the most important then flesh out the major points. Be very clear about the beginning, middle and end.”

Grab audience attention: “Invent a great title. Ask an uncomfortable question; seduce your audience with truth. Speak the truth and you will gain the audience’s attention. The first 10 seconds of a speech are critical and people can sense from the beginning whether a speech is worth their attention.”

Challenges of Giving a Speech: “Command attention from people addicted to digital devices.” It is best not so save the best points until the end. Season sentences with Today! Right now! At this moment! Punctuate with urgency and the audience will stick with you. Another challenge is delivering bad news. No one wants to hear it. Therefore, acknowledge it and personalize it by including statements such as: I am sad, or I am disappointed.”
How to Conclude a Speech: Conclude by conducting your own Q&A. “What did I learn from XYZ?” “This is what I learned!” Conclude with something provocative. “How did XYZ change my life?” “This is how it changed my life!” Think about good old-fashioned children’s stories. Beginning, middle and an ending, where we learn the moral of the story.”

Know your topic, and speak from a place of knowledge. “We are fine-tuned from our earliest days to pay attention to great stories,” Cynthia stresses. “Speechwriters are storytellers. Tell the story as the best ever told.

This post originally appeared on NYWICI Aloud blog.

Storytelling as a Marketing Tool

With so many online voices, it is important that brands find imaginative ways to connect with their customers. Creative storytelling allows brands the opportunity to take consumers on a visual journey.

How is storytelling evolving in this age of technology? To answer this question, I invited Julie Livingston to share insight during New York Women In Communications May 31, 2016, Twitter chat. As President of Livingston, PR, Julie advises clients on how to effectively use storytelling as a PR strategy.

Storytelling as a marketing tool

  • Social media and content marketing provide perfect platform to tell stories as part of brand marketing.
  • Stories contribute to a brand’s persona, a powerful mechanism for connecting with consumers.
  • Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into your brand.
  • Storytelling helps to differentiate your brand from the competition.
  • Consumers form a personal connection with your brand thru stories that are authentic, creative and inspirational.
  • New social media platforms are influencing brand storytelling such as snapchat.

Changes that Impact Storytelling

  • Because of social media, attention spans are shorter. Stories must be brief, yet compelling.
  • Audiences have become more fragmented, specialized. Stories that appeal to Millennials may not to Boomers.
  • The advent of mobile has also influenced brand storytelling. Must be brief and highly visual.
  • Real-time storytelling is on the rise. Snapchat is a great example of real-time storytelling.
  • The brand’s audience demographic will often dictate the kind of ‪#storytelling theme.

Examples of Great Brand Storytelling

  • @Progressive has done remarkably well through ‘Flo,’ a character created to tell its brand story.
  • @KennethCole used his fashion brand’s advertising to raise awareness of various social causes through powerful storytelling.
  • @TOMSshoes helped pioneer a type of disruptive storytelling.
  • @warbyparker has used storytelling to make consumers care about buying eyeglasses and helping others.

User-Generated Content

  • Brands are shifting gears from content creation to content curation and getting their fans to contribute.
  • User-generated content (UGC) can come in the form of Instagram photos, Facebook posts, Snapchat,Twitpics and more.
  • Sometimes, user-generated content is requested by a brand in exchange for a contest entry.

Popular Storytelling Platforms

  • Mobile technology and pervasive use of smart phones has contributed to the state of marketing and storytelling.
  • Think Snapchats, Vines, YouTube videos, influencers, long/short-form content.
  • Social media distribution and even made-for-TV content is evolving, changing the face of storytelling. Great example of this would be @Dicks film, “We Could Be King.” They won an Emmy in 2015 for its effective storytelling.

Brands have a story to tell and every effort should be made to identify what best resonates with consumers. Julie’s final thoughts on storytelling: “I think great brands actually tell the story of the customer getting what they want within their own brand story.”

This post originally appeared on NYWICI.org.