Want to make your speech more memorable? Learn to incorporate the art of cadence into your work.

cadence_image

According to Webster’s online dictionary, cadence is defined as “the way a person’s voice changes by gently rising and falling while he or she is speaking.”

As a speaker, if you can incorporate (and maybe even try to master) the use of cadence into your speech delivery, by varying your vocal inflection – up or down – to pronounce or call attention to a word or group of words in a sentence to stress their meaning, you will begin to see how well this technique works to make your speech more memorable.

Can you put a name with a speech?

“Free at last, Free at last, God almighty we are free at last.”

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

See what I mean. You probably got both of those right. You know why, because these orators were masters of incorporating eloquent pitches of cadence into their speeches.

By using the power of cadence, such as in Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963, “I Have a Dream” speech, or in President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration address, one can see how both of these men mastered their ability to use different vocal inflections to set a tone for how they wanted their words to be remembered, after all, these two works are some of the most memorable speeches of all time by American orators.

From time to time, I actually read along with speeches like these. This makes me learn how to slow down more and talk from a normal voice. Take a moment and listen to the top 100 speeches of all time at this link: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/top100speechesall.html

Well, here is one proven way to have the crowd in your hand…Learn to apply the use of cadence into your speech delivery, and you, too, can potentially make your speeches more memorable.

Keep on Speaking!

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Is this speech relevant to the audience I am speaking to today?

Oh...the big question!

Oh…the big question!

Question? Is this speech content relevant to your audience? If there is no value then why should your audience even listen? Your audience can pretend to be listening and still play Solitaire on their phones.

My concept to being relevant is about simplicity. You should edit your topic down to 10-12 words. If these words interest a few close friends, you have a relevant topic for your audience. However, if you get blank stares, you might want to rethink your ideas.

If you can get your message across in just a few words, you can be assured you will be on target. Sometimes the hardest part is to find out the most important nugget of your speech. You may have several nuggets worthwhile but there is usually one nugget that is the key to it all.

So again, ask yourself the important question: is this topic relevant to my audience?

 

Ok…the old 80/20 rule but a new variety!

The 80/20 rule for writing

The 80/20 rule for writing

One problem that speech writers have is writing the perfect ending. Many times writers are stuck in a circle, wanting perfection but never coming close.

One great way to avoid all of this is to follow the 80/20 rule. Write till you have completed eighty percent of what you are trying to accomplish. Stop and wait a few days. Come back later with fresh eyes and look at what you have written and then you can then decide if you need to work on the remaining twenty percent.

There will be times you will feel no need to work on the remaining twenty percent because you like what you have written.  Other times you will want to work on the remaining twenty percent because you know that something is missing. Again, you will only complete eighty percent and stop.

The result is that you get things accomplished with less headache and a feeling of accomplishment.

Smooth transition

Going from Point A to Point B

Going from Point A to Point B

Smooth transitions from one idea to the next is many times overlooked when a speaker is crafting their speech. Speakers think about the ideas of a speech and not  on how to get from one idea to the next.

When an audience is confused as to whether it is one large idea or several smaller ideas badly joined together, the cause can be poor transitions. Think of a transition as a fulcrum between two ideas or more simply as a playground teeter totter. The transition acts as a balance between the ideas. If the ideas in a speech are being given to prove the main topic of the speech, the transitions will lead the audience to a logical consensus. Ideas are the building blocks for a presentation similar to a large wall. Each building block contributes to the final message in a speech. Transitions are the mortar that holds these blocks together.

Stay on Track!

Which way is he talking about? by 101 Speaking Nuggets

Which way is he talking about?

One major problem that some speakers have is they fail to stay on track. It is very similar to watching a driver weave back and forth as they drive and wondering if they will crash.

 

Audiences need a clear and simple track to follow.  One of the best ways to keep your audience on track is for you to outline your speech on paper. Once it is written, you can then proceed to have someone review it. If this written outline is understood by that person, then your audience will understand as well.  If your reviewer gets lost or confused, you can rewrite your outline to avoid this confusion.

 

Think of your speech as a roadmap. The easier you make it for your audience to follow your speech, the more enjoyment your audience will have and the more they enjoy, the more they will listen.

 

Isn’t that is what it is all about? Listening!

 

 

Hit that Record Button. Now!

record_buttonIn the future, every time you speak, challenge yourself to make sure you record your presentation with some type of recording device. In this modern time of ‘digital’ technology, data storage is now really cheap, takes up very little space compared to what it used to, and is easy to come by. If you can’t set up the recording device and make the recording by yourself, ask a colleague to assist.

Whether you’re using your own smartphone app (Android, iPhone, etc.) for making a basic recording file, or you’re using an actual standalone recording device that can usually make a more “robust” recording, some devices let you record in two different AV modes: either in an audio-only format or in a full HD 1080p video quality format containing both audio AND video. You make the choice. Remember, different quality formats require different amounts of storage space. To ensure you don’t run out of disc space, grab a calculator and do the math on your expected recording outcome file size based on the configurations of your recording device. Check your device user manual for recording card capabilities.

At about the size of a stamp, most data cards, for example, like the popular SD type seen here, are relatively SD_cardsinexpensive and can hold a handful of hours of high-definition (HD) 1080p quality video and even many more hours of audio if you wish to record in an audio-only format. Here is a reference link to a wiki page covering all of the difference types of SD cards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital. The three basic SD card form factors are the original size, the “mini” size, and the “micro” size and they all come in storage capacity ranges from 1-64GB, and higher, depending upon the card type. Remember, check your manual.

Finally, remember to record whenever you can. You will enjoy reviewing your past speeches to help you get better each time you speak in the future. If you don’t record, you can’t measure your progression. Recording your speeches is a great way to document and learn more about what you did right or wrong and what you can work on in futures speeches. One reminder, though, as you review your recordings, be easy on yourself – don’t be too critical. This is a learning progression. As you become more familiar with hearing your own voice and looking at yourself on stage, you will begin to get more comfortable with watching…well – You!

Just sit back, watch and listen.

Ok…you told me I have to practice, but how do I practice?

Practicing3Practicing4

   
Any individual who speaks to audiences as part of their career will tell you that to become a better speaker, practice is the number one key to success. Any Professional athlete will tell you that in order to be a better athlete; you must practice. To improve your speaking technique you must develop the discipline to practice. Ok…but how? What is the best way to practice? How long to do you practice? Where do I practice? My answer is simply…it depends. It depends on your own particular style of practicing. For example, when I practice, I do it in small chunks of time. I have found for me my practice takes the form; 2 steps forward and one step backwards. I practice till I am somewhat comfortable with the speech, then I stop and wait a few days. When I start practicing again, I am not at the same comfort level as when I stopped the first time. But I continue to practice and break through any mental barrier I may have. Practicing in small chunks of time resembles walking up a staircase. As I continue to work on the speech, I climb the steps to a better speech.
As to how long you should practice, well…it depends. I believe you can never practice too many times. The more times you practice, your comfortable level increases. Also the more times you practice, more additional ways you may find to say what you want to say. You may think that as you practice you will have the tendency to memorize the speech. Well, resist the urge to memorize your speech. I may want memorize my opening and closing but the body of my speech I want to have variety of ways to say what I want to say. If you memorize a 45 minute speech, what happens if your meeting planner says that you have only 25 minutes to do your speech? If you are the last speaker before lunch, most audiences will love you if you end 10 minutes early but hate you if you are one minute over.
Another aspect of practice concerns recording devices. Many speakers record their speeches. This method allows you to see their body movements or listen to their words to improve their speech. What you think you present to your audience, can be totally different as to what the audience will hear and see.
Remember, it is your speech but it is the audience who will decide. So practice hard, practice long and finally just practice!