The Ultimate Speech
You’ve worked hard to craft your speech. You’ve practiced and gotten feedback. You’ve made changes. And you delivered your talk with authenticity and clearly, the audience loved it.
Not because you got a standing ovation, but the overwhelmingly positive evaluations and that one comment from the meeting planner, “You are by far the best speaker we’ve ever had.”
You’re on cloud nine. This is why you became a speaker.
The Truth About Speech Impact
In the afterglow of this experience, have you ever followed up with an organization to discover how much of your speech was remembered or if people have taken action on your suggestions?
If you haven’t, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most people never do.
There are several reasons for this, but one of the biggest may be they don’t want to face the hard truth.
People remember very little of your speech, no matter how great it is.
There have been various studies performed on audience retention. Although there isn’t a specific number, there is a range the studies fall into regarding how much of a speech is remembered. I’ve read numbers as low as 5% and as high as 20%.
Whatever the number is, it’s low.
How You Open and Close Your Speech Isn’t Enough
Research has also proved that the two most remembered parts of the speech or the opening and the conclusion. This makes sense based on the Primacy and Recency Effect — we tend to remember the first and last parts of a presentation more than other segments.
However, the above numbers apply to those speeches that have meaningful and memorable openings and conclusions. This means the best speeches in the world are still quickly forgotten.
The answer to that question lies in the science of short and long-term memory, which we’ll not get into in this post.
One aspect we can utilize from that branch of brain science is the importance of spaced, repetitive learning.
How to Help Your Audience Remember Your Message
Think about the subject you love to study. Did you read about it just once or just watch one video and become well-versed in that topic?
Of course not. If you love that subject you probably read as many articles, books, and posts as you can. You also most likely watch any videos on the topic.
Chances are you do this on a regular basis.
What does this have to do with leaving an impact on your audience?
It’s an idea I haven’t heard anyone else promote…
Every time you give a speech, set up a system of follow-up information to send to your audience members to remind them about your topic.
For example, I speak about presentation skills and business storytelling. After my speeches, I gather contact information from all audience members who are interested in these topics.
I then register them for my https://bit.ly/52StoryTips. Every week for one year, they are reminded about the importance of storytelling in business. They pick up a new idea every seven days.
Will they use it?
I don’t know, but, they’re much more likely to if they repeatedly get reminders from me rather than hear me speak once and then go back to their daily lives.
Selfishly speaking, as an added bonus, I am more top of mind with that organization and their members the next time they need a speaker or someone asks them if they know someone who speaks on my topics.
If you want your message to stick long after you speak, don’t fight nature. Speak once and disappear and your message likely will not stick, no matter how good you are.
Use the brain’s tendency to learn from spaced, repetitive information and you exponentially increase the odds you’ll leave a lasting impact.
In researching information for this post, I came across an interesting article from cognitive scientist Dr. Carmen Simon. Although Dr. Simon doesn’t address the suggestion (continual after-speech contact with your audience) I offer in this post, she has some terrific ideas on how to best structure your presentations to improve audience retention.
Here’s a link to her article: https://blog.polleverywhere.com/how-to-structure-a-presentation/.