My first public speaking event was when I was 12 years of age. My Dad was the pastor of a church in Iowa. He asked me to preach a message at one of our services. It was 8 minutes long including the response time we preachers call “the Altar Call” Those that listen to me now wonder where those 8 minute messages have gone. That was 36 years and 1000’s of speeches ago.
Leaders are required to speak. It doesn’t matter if you are a pastor, supervisor, PTA president, or the head of your local neighborhood watch group. If you lead people, there will be a moment in time where you will be called to speak in front of, to, and with people. The most effective leaders are also the most effective communicators. Leadership and communication go hand in hand. As leaders are made so are communicators. You can become a good, if not great communicator. It just takes some time, practice, and a few tips.
5 tips to preparing a speech
- Know your audience
As a minister, I was asked to open a community breakfast in prayer. Our city had just gone through a dramatic property tax assessment. It caused many people to loose their homes. As I began I referenced the struggle our city found itself in and mentioned a time when Jesus disciples did not have enough money to pay the taxes and were instructed to go fishing. They found a gold coin in a fish’s mouth. I equated that story to our reliance on Christ and prayed for us as a city to rely on the providence and provision of God. A simple five-minute thought and prayer was effective because I knew the needs of the audience.
- Know your topic – Don’t fake it – you’ll loose credibility
- Read, read, read, read, read, read, read everything!!!!
Leaders are readers!!! Reading is what gives you depth of message. If you are not reading, your message will ultimately prove shallow and old. Reading gives you new ideas, current trends, and foundational principles.
- Be aware of your surroundings
- I always have an introduction
- But keep it fluid
- Use what has happened in the room to connect
Set the podium free!!!
- Do not be chained to your notes
- If you are speaking about your passion this will not be a problem
- If you are speaking on an assigned topic this could be a problem
- Know your material enough to speak it not recite or read it
Speak from your heart
- Remember you are the message. Roger Ailes wrote a book entitled “You Are the Message”. I recommend every leader own it and read it at least once a year. What you communicate is not just the information you give but also who you are.
- Do not speak on something you know nothing about
In other words – STUDY!!!!!
Solicit a Response
- Leave them with something to do
Abraham Lincoln would secretly attend church in Washington. He would sit in the pastor’s study with the door cracked hear and see the proceedings. Upon walking back to the White House he was asked how he enjoyed the service. He concluded that the message was very well delivered and had good points, but there was no challenge or application.
Different speeches, sermons, presentations require different endings. Yet, every speech should challenge the hearer to some action.