How to Create Speeches That Are Fresh and Audience-Friendly
I’m tired. Not from the holidays, but from listening to cliched and hackneyed speeches.
Hall of Fame speaker Patricia Fripp says, “Audiences will forgive almost everything except being boring.” Over-used and tired phrases and stories are boring.
Your audience may be tuning you out if you’ve fallen into this trap. At some level, they’re thinking “I’ve heard this before. What time is this going to be over?’ When this happens, the opportunity to share your message is lost.
Without further adieu, let’s take a look at some of these phrases (Hint: For the first example, see the beginning of this sentence):
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
“Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the ‘present’.'”
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
“When you ASSUME, you….” (feel free to fill in the rest of this classic)
“There’s no ‘I’ in team (has anyone noticed that there is an ‘M’ and an ‘E’?)”
Additionally, here are examples of over-used stories that should be retired:
- Edison’s 10,000 ‘failures’ until he created the first light bulb.
- Abraham Lincoln’s litany of failures until he won the Presidency of the United States.
- The child who was throwing starfishes into the ocean, and was told that, ‘with so many starfish on the beach, it doesn’t matter that you throw a few back in the water.’ “It matters to the ones I throw back” was the child’s reply.
It took less than 10 minutes to create this list. With time, I could think of many more examples, but you get the idea.
I’m not just pointing fingers here, because, as you know, when you point a finger at someone, there are three pointing back at you (I apologize, but I couldn’t resist throwing that in – it’s another cliche that needs to go away).
Are any of these phrases or stories bad? Absolutely not. The problem is that they’ve been used in so many speeches that they’re no longer fresh. Use them at your own peril – they’ll make you sound like almost every speaker. You’ve already read about the problem that can create.
The hard truth is that using worn-out cliches and stories is intellectually lazy. If you’re taking the valuable time of an audience, you owe it to them to present a unique and fresh perspective with your speeches.
What’s the Solution?
The solution to this is to invest time to develop your stories and create your unique phrases. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. For example, my title for my speaking program Stand Up, Stand OUT! was developed over a long period of time. It started out as a 31-word phrase. With testing and feedback, it was eventually whittled down to these memorable four words that capture the essence of the program. It’s much more memorable than “How to Be a Great Speaker.”
To illustrate the concept of not overloading your audience with too much information, I created the concept of “Dropping a Rock on Your Audience.” This, too, took time and patience to deliver, but it’s worth it because the concepts provides the audience with a memorable image that drives home the main point. If you’d like to read more about this concept, click here.
If you want to be a Stand OUT! presenter whose message resonates long after you speak, throw away the old stories and cliched one-liners. Give your audience a new point-of-view with fresh ideas, and they’ll never tire of hearing you.
What has been your experience with cliches and over-used stories?
You are invited to leave your thoughts below:
Educational Resources of the Week
The book Did I Ever Tell You About the Time…” by Grady Jim Robinson. Grady Jim is a legendary speaker with a wealth of stories. His messages resonate deeply with audiences. Study this book, and you’ll better understand how to weave emotions into your stories. To get your copy, visit: http://amzn.to/1lIczyc.
OK, my trite saying is from my clutter message: “How Do You Eat An Elephant? One bite at a time.” That’s my best example to my students who are overwhelmed by a house full of clutter.
Do you have a better example? What do I google to find as vivid an example that I can make fit my “mess” to “message” story?
Carol, since you’re focused on cleaning houses,many not use the metaphor of steps. You could say “You can’t get from the first floor of a house to the third with out taking one step at a time. The same goes for cleaning your mess – take one step at a time.”