Delivering the Best Keynote

The following article was written by me for practise writing, and as an idea for a potential publication. Before I begin, I am not a teacher, though I have some experience teaching, I do not claim to be an expert, and the following article is posted from no real position of authority. All the same, do please read it, you never know, you might like it!

You’re standing before a crowd, preparing to give an address, and it’s important to do a good job. That is, it is important to stand confidently and deliver your address, extending the invitations, and providing those present with evidence to back up and reinforce your message. A less prepared speaker runs the risk of being unsure what to say, panicking and presenting a not as good of a keynote. So, what do you do to fix that? I have spent a lot of time observing how people across the world deliver addresses, present T.V. programs, or put across other information, from Steve Jobs representing Apple in California, to Jeremy Clarkson doing Top Gear, to my Church leaders giving addresses as a General Conference or other meeting. I am impressed at how these people do such a clear, appealing job at putting across words to us, and have always thought about how to achieve this myself.

Some may use a script, which may work. Those we see on television often use a teleprompter, others will improvise (a nice way to say B.S.) it, which in my observation has but a partial success rate. The critical factor, is being able to approach all the potential obstacles in a manor that you can confidently work around them, in other words, not loose your ‘cool’ when Bryan the slob hurls abuse at you.

From my observations and conclusions, I want to offer 4 tips for good speaking to people.

1. Quite honestly, the best way to sell your point is to know what you’re on about.

Know what you’re on about. Know your topic, know it inside out, it’ll boost your confidence, especially when questions come, when you know it, you can and should answer in your own words and you wont need to worry about how you do it. Be calm, and answer questions as if you were talking to just one person in front of you. You’ll also eliminate the chance of repeating yourself for the want of something to say.

2. Use notes effectively

It’s very pretty to have a page of notes, but not that good if those notes are simply a script of what you want to say. First of all, why are you speaking? What’s your purpose? Are you selling something? Or persuading others to your point of view? Use your notes to set your objectives, and remind yourself of the things you want to say to show listeners your viewpoint, and to communicate to listeners what action you want them to take.

3. Keep it simple

People may judge you by the elegance of your words, so it is important to deliver them as maturely, confidently and perhaps even as sophisticatedly as you can. But volume and sophistication are not directly proportional, one with another. If you feel like you have to fill time, the chances are you’ll end up talking gibberish, and probably panicking too.

Take a look at this quote from John Taylor:

“It is true intelligence for a man to take a subject that is mysterious and great in itself, and to unfold and simplify it so that a child can understand it.”

Speak in dignified clear sentences, for that is how the audience will understand, and, if what you have said has done the job, then to say any more will simply detract from it. Simply close your remarks and finish. To do anything else would really be quite silly.

4. Deliver it conversationally

I referenced this point briefly, under the first section about knowing your topic. Picture yourself conversing with friends. Most of us have plenty to say when in the presence of friends, and we usually do it very tactfully and effectively. There is no mind blank, no script, and a quality conversation. It need not be different when speaking to a crowd. Try to see your audience, as you would your close friends, in others words, speak as you would conversationally; pause to take a breath, to think, to reorganise your papers or to have a drink.

You will be able to give confident, purposeful addresses, as you learn your topic, prepare for what you want to achieve, and use simple statements to communicate. I leave these thoughts and suggestions with you, with best wishes in what ever you choose to do with them.