Many of you likely have heard a commencement speech recently as high schools and colleges are releasing the class of 2018 to the world. Was the commencement speech you heard good? Was it memorable?
If you’d liked the commencement speech you heard and remember any of it, it’s probably because of the speaker’s ability to tell a great story and their ability to add healthy doses of appropriate humor. A good speaker knows how to tell a story and a joke that resonates with you personally and emotionally.
The following are three commencement speeches I recommend to my coaching clients and classes because they are examples of good storytelling and good humor. In each example, note how the speaker finds a common emotional bond with their audience.
The success they each achieved in life is interesting to our minds, but the struggles they go through to get there are what touches our hearts.
What’s your favorite commencement speech and what did you like about it? Feel free to drop a link to your favorite speech in the comments section below.
Note: The photo accompanying this article is from my daughter Kaitlyn’s high school graduation a few weeks ago. Yep, that’s Kaitlyn at the podium. But she isn’t about to deliver a commencement address. No, she’s about to do something even more terrifying. What could be more terrifying than public speaking? She’s about to sing the National Anthem in front of 4,000 people in a stadium that has been the site of national championships and a Super Bowl. No pressure! Well, she sang great and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
Eliminating weak language in your business presentations and speeches will help you to be a more effective leader and a better public speaker. Unnecessary equivocating phrases such as “kind of,” “sort of” or “just wanted” will chip away at your credibility and sabotage your own effectiveness. Instead, use powerful, straightforward language and seek to be inclusive with your audience.
To be more inclusive, think “influence and include’ rather than “command and control” or “more we and less me.”
Compare these phrases:
“This is sort of my plan to get the ball rolling.” vs. “This is our plan to get the ball rolling.”
“I just wanted to say thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.” vs. “Thank you for your hard work and dedication.”
“In my opinion, we should take a different course of action.” vs. “Let’s take a different course of action.”
If you want to be perceived as a leader, speak with confidence, conviction, and inclusiveness in areas where you are certain, committed and need the support of your audience. When you speak like a leader, you’ll have a more powerful presentation and inspire more listeners to take action.
When your audience is laughing at your quip or clapping their approval of your key point, let them conclude before continuing with your presentation. By rejoining your presentation too soon, they won’t be able to hear your first few words and you miss an opportunity to fully engage your audience.
By cutting the audience off too soon, it may even appear that you don’t appreciate their goodwill. Just say “thank you,” if appropriate, smile and continue.
Conclude with Style and Grace
The same goes for your conclusion. When your audience is applauding, stand graciously and accept the applause until they have concluded. You might even want to give a slight bow if it seems appropriate. Hang out for a few minutes to talk to people who approach you after your presentation and graciously accept their compliments. There’s plenty of time later to gather up your notes, disconnect your laptop, etc.
Take your time and enjoy the positive feedback. Public speaking is supposed to be fun and engaging.
My public speaking students at the Art Institute of Phoenix had fun this week learning how to speak using a teleprompter. They read from my famous “4Ps assessment script” that my personal coaching clients use.
I really enjoy working with the students and helping them to become confident and skilled presenters. And teaching helps keep me to stay sharp as well. Some days, I learn as much from my students as they do from me.
Keeping a virtual audience engaged can seem like a daunting task. They can see you, but for the most part, you won’t be able to see who you are presenting or talking to. So how do you keep an audience like that engaged beyond having an entertaining presentation? In this post, we’ll review some simple tactics on how you can keep a virtual audience engaged.
1) Demand Undivided Attention
The simplest way to get a virtual audience to engage with you and your presentation is to ask for their undivided attention from the beginning of the presentation. As them to put away their phones, close out of all the other tabs they might have open in their browser windows and dedicate the next block of time to the presentation and what they will learn.
2) Ask questions/Polls/Quizzes
To keep a virtual audience engaged include questions throughout your presentation. You can ask questions in the form of polls or quizzes as well. If there is a chat functionality enabled, you can ask participants to leave their response in the chatbox. For example, you can say “If this makes you feel frustrated type 1 in the chatbox”, or you can present different scenarios and ask your audience to type in the scenario they identify with.
3) Include Interactive Elements In Your Video
Interactive videos are a great way to keep a virtual audience engaged. Interactive videos can include click-throughs to landing pages, quizzes, or play certain sections based on the viewer’s choices. There are some great tools out there to help you create these types of videos like Vizio, or you can check out YouTube, as it allows for simple video interaction cards that can lead your viewer to subscribe to your channel or watch a related video or playlist.
A simple way to keep a virtual audience engaged is to host a Q&A based on the subject of your presentation. The whole presentation can be a Q&A session or you can present and leave time at the end for some questions.
5) Include Your Audience In The Broadcast
Live videos are a great way to increase reach for your social media channels, and what better way engage an audience than to give them a chance to be included in the broadcast. On Facebook Live (on mobile), Hangouts On Air via YouTubeLive and Instagram Live Stories, you can have someone broadcast with you in real time! Give your participants a chance to be on air with you to keep everyone engaged.
6) Offer Bonuses
Offering a bonus for those who stay through the end of your presentation can be a quick tactic to keep a virtual audience engaged. Some software will let you know who stayed until the end, or you can simply offer a link, or coupon code at the very end of your presentation to keep things simple.
7) Conduct Chats
One final way you can keep a virtual audience engaged is to conduct chats after a presentation. Perhaps you’ve interviewed someone and the second part of that is for your audience to continue the conversation in a chat or even a live stream session with the interviewee.
I hope these seven tactics to engage a virtual audience come in handy for your next presentation!
ABOUT THE GUEST BLOGGER
Dhariana Lozano has been in the social media and digital marketing world for over seven years. She is the co-founder of Supremacy Marketing, a boutique social media marketing firm based in New York City. Her experience includes creating social media strategies and consulting for both B2C and B2B brands to help them stand out and break through digital walls for ongoing success. She blogs at DhariLo.com where she provides social media tips, resources, and courses. You can see her work published in Social Media Week, Social Media Today, and the AgoraPulse blog. You can connect with Dhariana by sending her a tweet @Dharilo.
If you’re a low-energy public speaker, here are a few tips to add a little “umph” to your speeches or business presentations. I believe there are three aspects of public speaking that are inextricably linked together.
If you manipulate any one of these three, it will affect the other two:
How energetic you feel
How wide you gesture
How loud you speak
When you are feeling energetic inside, you naturally gesture wider and talk louder. Likewise, when you gesture wider, you naturally talk louder and begin to feel more energetic. And when you talk louder, you naturally gesture wider and feel more energetic.
Try this test. First, stand up. You’ll always have more energy standing and should always choose this option to speak if it doesn’t look awkward to do so.
From your standing position start speaking about any random subject very softly and try gesturing very wide, with your arms outstretched like a great bird. It’s hard to do, isn’t it? It requires focus and concentration to speak softly and to gesture widely. It’s not natural. Your voice instinctively will start to get louder as your gestures get wider. Next, try speaking loudly but gesturing small and close to your chest. That’s equally hard to do, right? Again, it’s not the way we are wired and it feels awkward.
So, if you need a little energy punch in your speech or business presentation, try standing up, putting some air under your wings and talking a little louder than you typically do. You’ll feel your energy — and your ability to engage your audience — rise to the occasion.
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s once gave this advice on public speaking: “Be sincere. Be brief. Be seated.” FDR’s advice is spot on, especially for today’s audiences who seem to value authenticity and brevity above all else.
To master sincerity, focus on being personal, being yourself, but not being perfect. FDR mastered this technique in his famous “fireside chat” radio addresses to the nation.
But what’s the secret to being brief? How do you make your points as powerfully as possible in the shortest amount of time? Answer: Structure.
Having a thought-out and orderly structure to your speech keeps you focused and relevant and keeps you from rambling. Roosevelt mastered this technique as well.
In our coaching practice and workshops, we teach simple but powerful speech structures that you can easily adapt and use in business presentations, speeches and anywhere you find yourself speaking in public. Want to learn more? Let’s talk. Schedule a Speaking Sucess Strategy Session with us today. We promise to be sincere and to be brief!
Phoenix Public Speaking Principal Consultant Paul Barton will discuss exactly what it takes to be an effective public speaker and business presenter in the “Blueprint for Public Speaking Success” talk in Phoenix on Friday, March 2.
Simple but powerful ways to define the qualities needed to be a good speaker.
How to use the blueprint to assess your skills — what areas are you good at, what areas do you need to improve.
New ways of thinking about what it means to be an effective communicator in the Digital Age.
This one-hour informal talk is free to attend but you must register. Seating is limited to the first five people who sign-up. The talk will be held in a private conference room located within a Starbucks. It’s a cozy atmosphere that is conducive for insightful conversation. Participants are asked to bring pen and paper, and be prepared for an interactive discussion. Hope to see you there!