Whether your a seasoned professional or new to the boardroom, every type of speech has different make or break moments. You need a battle plan for your efforts, an outline to turn to and a worst case scenario before you even think of stepping in front of an audience.
Know the audience
Are you pitching or proposing? Make up your mind on how persuasive you need to be. Are you only going to deal with hard facts and figures or will you need to include a human element? Most importantly, how will your audience react to both. There are numerous was to do everything, be sure you know what your audience is going to want. Financial vs Marketing, Tech vs. Sales, you need to know what the people are looking for, and what kind of approach they would like to see.
Know what your material can and can’t do
No topic, tool, proposal or gimmick has ever sold itself. Whether your trying to convince an investor to come on board or finding overhead to cut, know the consequences of your actions. Business may be about numbers, but people are always the ones who feel the decision. If cutting a department in half pulls in more capital, know what the long term consequence are; you need to sell the future, not just the present.
Know the difference between what people want and what people need
The Internet is full of get rich quick schemes, and many a downtrodden surfer has clicked on a bad link. It’s the perfect example of a listener not knowing the difference between what they want and what they need. No matter how solid you idea is (the need) you have to make your audience want it. Try to present you ideas in a clear manner. Your speech should contain solid points on why you want to push your idea long before you get to the need for the proposal. Make you audience see that the only way out of their problem is your idea.
Writing your proposal and speech
1. Be clear about what your audience needs. Outline, and then detail why they need your idea. Leave no stone unturned.
2. Be concise with your idea, try to use only the things you need to when detailing how it can be effective and implemented.
3. Know when to back off. People need time to think, never leave an ultimatum in your speech or presentation. People love to be persuaded and needed, but rarely do people stand in line to listen or read a ‘my way or the highway’ ultimatum.
4. Close with your opening. Never recap half way through, that’s what the closing is for. There is nothing worse than listening to some go back over the same material. The only acceptable time for this is the end of your layout.
5. Treat each section of your proposal as an independent part of the whole. Try to make your ideas fit together, but understand that each one should be unique. Audience of any medium are good at grasping onto the big picture, so give them hard details of the things they can’t see relating to the whole.
Forget the cliches and learn to give people what they need and how they want it. Know your audience, each one is different from the next. If your an expert in your field, think about how you want to be treated; firm and with a sense of intelligence but not high and mighty. Over time you will learn the fine line between being upfront without being confrontational, persuasive without being sleazy; so when in doubt, take the middle ground.