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"Be a voice not an echo." - Albert Einstein

The Ideal Way to Prepare a Great Speech or Presentation

The Ideal Way to Prepare a Great Speech or Presentation

Forget what you've learned about writing a speech. Take an actor and speech coach's advice. Here's the ideal way to prepare a great speech or presentation.

I'd like to discuss a revolutionary concept with you. It has to do with whether you prepare your speeches and presentations as a literary document, or as something to be spoken to an audience.

You can probably guess which option you should be choosing. And I'd be surprised to hear that you already employ it, since you almost need to have been trained as a performer to be using it.

Your talks can only come to life through your performance. Audiences need to hear your voice! Learn the right skills in Speak for Leadership. Click on the image below for more. 

Dr. Gary Genard's book on speaking as a leader, Speak for Leadership

How to Prepare a Speech with Your Audience in Mind 

It's really all about making your ideas come to life. Importantly, doing that goes beyond your platform skills. Or to be more accurate, it precedes your in-person speaking. That's because your performance actually begins the moment you start thinking about your speech. And it's at this point where I suggest you take an entirely new approach to speech preparation.

Is anything more important than a dynamic performance? Of course not. Learn how to excel!  Download my Free Guide, The 7 Leadership Qualities of Great Speakers.

Let's look at the age-old way that we as presenters have been preparing our talks. This approach probably began ten or fifteen minutes after a cosmic collision separated the moon from the Earth, as this method has just as many potholes and craters. Most Earthlings, I think you'll agree, use this process of speech preparation:

Think   Write  →  Speak


You know how this works: you have some ideas (THINK), which you then write down or put into a slide deck (WRITE). After editing and polishing this document, your talk is where you want it to be, or so you think. Since the deadline is coming up, maybe you get up on your feet and practice (SPEAK). If time is very tight, you may skip this step.

Practicing matters, so you'll get better at connecting with listeners! Learn more in my Free Tips and Tricks Guide, 20 Ways to Connect With An Audience For Lasting Influence.

Practice or not, you find yourself on stage delivering a speech without the right preparation to be there. And that can be a very uncomfortable spot indeed. I call this venue the ‘oral arena.’ The reason you're not prepared is because the literary document you so meticulously prepared turns out to be of little use to you. The task you have at this moment is establishing rapport with the audience—right now, in real time. And the only tool you have to accomplish it is, basically, a term paper.

Having a Conversation Is So Much Better, Isn't It?

Consider instead if you had built your presentation from the first moment as a conversation with listeners—one designed to actually get through to themThink about the difference. The reason so many speakers lack presence is that they’re basically reading to the audience. Their focus is on speaking out loud the words on a page or slide (whether in front of the speaker or memorized), instead of talking with listeners with an immediacy they can respond to.

Here's where your vocal qualities really come into play! Learn the skills you need in my essential guide, 5 Ways to Improve Your Voice As a Professional. Download it now!

So why not put yourself in the oral arena as early as possible? Why not get yourself ready by conceiving and practicing a speech that was custom-made for these listeners from the get-go? You can do this by the following method I’ve created, which I call:

Think    Speak  →  Write


Notice the difference in the order of the three steps. Here, you think about your talk just like before. But this time, you immediately speak out loud what you’re planning to say. As you hear what you’ll be saying aloud, you will naturally be asking yourself questions like these: How do the words, phrases, and ideas sound? Is the tone right? Does the level of simplicity or sophistication fit this audience? Am I respectful, upbeat, and inspirational? Will my remarks resonate with the audience’s needs and desires? Are the points I'm trying to make clear? Am I use strong transitions . . . and so on.

By using my method you’ll discover that, in fact, sometimes what you're thinking of saying won’t sound right, for any number of reasons. You’ll then have to think about making that point in another way. But that's the beauty of this approach: you’re using your own ears to help your remarks sit on the ears of listeners the way you want them to.

The result is that you’ll save yourself a lot of time, and maybe some embarrassment. You won’t find out at the moment of performance that your literary gem doesn’t actually work as a speech. And that's a lesson well worth learning, instead of one that's as old as the moon.

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Gary Genard is an actor, author, and expert in public speaking and overcoming speaking fear. His company, The Genard Method offers live 1:1 Zoom executive coaching  and corporate group training worldwide. In 2022 for the ninth consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as One of the World’s Top 30 Communication Professionals. He is the author of the Amazon Best-Seller How to Give a Speech. His second book, Fearless Speakingwas named in 2019 as "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." His handbook for presenting in videoconferences, Speaking Virtually offers strategies and tools for developing virtual presence in online meetings. His latest book is Speak for Leadership: An Executive Speech Coach's Secrets for Developing Leadership PresenceContact Gary here.

Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash.


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