How to deliver an impactful speech

Alex Merry, a public speaking expert and founder of TEDxClapham, has launched an online public speaking course for entrepreneurs and business owners to make an impact.

Here, Merry points out the keys to be successful with public speaking.

In 1967, two studies were published by UCLA professor, Albert Mehrabian that went on to shape the public speaking industry. They concluded that 7% of the way we communicate is down to our words, 38% through our tone of voice and 55% through our body language. It was music to the ears of public speaking coaches and body language experts across the world; don’t worry about what you say, worry about how you say it (cue standing up in front of a group of people and feeling awkward).

Dig a little deeper and you discover that the studies have been completely misinterpreted; he was actually testing how emotions and attitudes affect how we communicate (and essentially found that when words and nonverbal messages aren’t aligned, people tended to interpret the message based on their nonverbals).

The point is, if you want to deliver an impactful talk, start by making sure that what you’ve got to say is worth hearing.  Here are three must do’s before you start prepping your next speech.

Give your talk a greater purpose

Ask yourself: What is it that you want your talk to achieve? If you want your talk to have an impact, at the very least your goal should be to teach your audience something new. This is typically where those feelings of inspiration come from when we are watching TED talks online, it’s not because we are actually inspired, it’s because as adults, we forget what it feels like to learn something new, so when we do, that’s why it feels awesome! Set out to educate and you will inspire.

Articulate the problem

There is a reason why some speakers are able to walk into a room and have the audience hang off their every word and it’s their ability to understand and empathise with the audience. And this is crucial, because if you can articulate the problem your audience is experiencing better than they can themselves, they will instinctively associate you will the solution. In other words, by communicating the audience’s problem in their own language, you are giving them a reason why they should keep listening to what you’ve got to say.

Pinpoint the solution and repeat it

One of the most successful business talks of all time is Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk, How Leaders Inspire Action. The core message? People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. He repeats this sentence seven times in the space of 15 minutes to drive his message home, further still, the word why is repeated 29 times. Keep your solution simple, pin it down to one sentence and use repetition to make sure the message sinks in!