Adding Color to Your Speech

Variety adds spice to your talk and keeps people awake.

A general humor-rule for successful speech making is to use some humor at least every seven minutes. I would adapt that advice to say: At least every seven minutes do something different. A change-of-pace keeps your audience refreshed and listening. There are things you can do, other than humor, which can add color to your talk. Props, poetry, slides, song, dance, and more. What talents do you have? Do you juggle, do magic, play the guitar, eat fire? Well, you get the idea. As speakers we want to be more than talking heads. Add some variety, animation and sparkle to your presentations.

Here’s an idea for visually mapping your talk. Let’s say you’re delivering a one-hour speech. Prepare your manuscript or detailed outline. Find three differently colored highlighter markers. Highlight the “take-home-value” parts of your talk in, perhaps, yellow. These are the sections where you deliver “how-to” information; things that people can do to change their everyday lives. Next, take a blue highlighter and highlight the stories you tell to illustrate your points. A good talk is normally filled with colorful stories which make the talk memorable. Then, using a green highlighter, mark the funny spots in your talk. Often there is humor within the stories. Sometimes it is sprinkled in just to wake up the audience. I would also use this green highlighter to mark the segments of the talk where you add the change-of-pace color; perhaps where you sing, or play music, or show slides. I consider these activities in the same category as humor, audience refreshers.

Now, you have a visual map of your talk. Look for the patterns. Do you have a very lengthy “how-to” session of heavy content that is begging for some variety? Is all your humor crammed into one segment of your talk? Have you sprinkled stories throughout your talk? Stories add life to your speech to make them better. Your visual map will help you achieve balance throughout the presentation which will keep the audience interested and will help assure they’ll remember your talk and tell others about it tomorrow.

By John Kinde, Humor Specialist speaker from Las Vegas. Copyright 2005 by John Kinde. More humor skills articles and free Ezine at (702) 263-4363.




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