Speech Tip: Don’t Tell Me a Story

Speech Tip: Don’t Tell Me a Story

Speech Tip: Don’t Tell Me a Story (Unless It Matters)

When you are giving a speech, you are being graced with the attention of as many people as are listening. You’ve heard “tell a story, tell a story” as some sort of speech givers mantra. That’s not the point of your speech. Your job isn’t to entertain anyone. Your job, the reason you are giving the speech is different. It might be to raise money, to encourage action, or to educate.

The story must integrate, assimilate into the job at hand. Control every word. Each phrase must have purpose. Add in mere entertainment and you waste the time of your audience. Entertain to draw the audience forward to your goal only.

In telling a wonderful, interesting, and even engaging story without more purpose is self-indulgent. All the applause you get then will pull the audience from applauding your cause. Less change will result.

Think of those fun Super Bowl commercials, those which catchphrases you remember, but not the product. You laughed, you cried, you cheered, but you never ever bought the product. The advertiser spent oodles of money (oodles, for the uniformed is around $10 billion per second) and all they bought was a smile.

Not ever Super Bowl commercial fell to this folly, and, certainly, neither does every speech. Most succeed because the audience is moved toward doing what they are asked.

Here’s what you can do: Write your best speech. Then, ask each section if it is earning its place. Look especially at the stories and determine if they are just funny or just touching, or if they magnify your message. Then edit aggressively.

Tell your story but tell it with purpose. When you do, you’ll see good results: money for a good cause, people working harder, and that those who need to know something know what they need to know.

I’m happy to help. Contact me.

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