As a public speaking coach, I often get asked,
“Cheryl, what makes the difference between an OK speech, a good speech and a great speech?”
The people asking the question are usually doing so because they are pre-judging themselves. They may think that they could possibly do an ‘OK job’ of making a speech. Perhaps they could even do a ‘good speech’. But a ‘great speech’? A Martin Luther King, “I Had A Dream” speech? 🌈
Well – that’s something they think is beyond them.
But they are wrong.
No – don’t get me wrong – I am not saying everyone could get up in front of tens or hundreds of thousands of people and deliver an ‘I had a dream….’ type of speech. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t deliver a great speech.
Let me explain.
In my opinion – the difference between OK, good and great is simple.
An OK speech is one where you get your information across, without (big) mishap, and without sending your audience to sleep. It might be one where people come away and think – “hmm, she had a point there”, or “That was interesting”.
A good speech is where people might come away and think “Wow, I never knew that”, or “That was really useful!”
A great speech will be remembered not for its sound bites or its great information, but for how it made you feel. You will remember that hilarious after-dinner speaker (even if you can’t remember a single one of the jokes a few weeks later).
You will remember the “I had a dream” speech – not because of that great line, but because of the passion that it was delivered with. And because you can feel the hope in the audience, that we can create a better world.
You will absolutely remember the speaker who made you feel like they were speaking just to you, and who seemed to know your every thought before you even thought it. And not only that, you will always remember this was the day you made a decision to do something differently.
What a great speech can do
I remember being at an event where it felt like the speaker was talking just to me. I clearly remember him asking ‘me’ who would mourn my loss and understanding he was challenging me to understand the small impact I was (at that time) making on the world.
That was the day I made the decision to become a speaker and to make a much bigger impact on the world. And that decision led to me becoming a speaker coach. So now I am able to make a far bigger impact – by teaching others how to get THEIR message out.
A great speech is one where your audience FEELS you.
Where they can feel your emotion, your values and what you stand for. And that will attract people who feel the same way. THAT will ultimately make the difference between them choosing you to do business with / be their coach / inspire them.
You may not talk to audiences as large as Martin Luther King (although there is no reason why not if you are as passionate as he was). But, here’s the thing. That doesn’t matter.
If you speak to an audience of ONE and you move them, then you have achieved a great speech. Because a great speech is one which changes things. A great speech is one that people do not just appreciate analytically. It is one that makes them FEEL. And when you can reach people on an emotional level, then you can help them.
Your speech doesn’t need to be perfect to be great. It doesn’t matter if you forget something you meant to say, or you swear or speak with a local accent, or use slang words. (Ask me how I know about that!). You don’t have to be the most polished and accomplished speaker the audience has ever seen.
Because, in fact, sometimes that can be a disadvantage.
You just have to be YOU. Genuinely, authentically YOU – whatever that means, in all your glory! (we talked about that in last week’s blog here).
You will resonate with the people you will resonate with. And perhaps you can change minds and lives.
And if you only make a lasting impact on ONE person, it was worth it. You made a great speech.
Like everything – speaking in public is a skill and it can be learned. If you would like to know more about The Sensational Speaker Package – where you get coaching and a real-life stage to perform on, a professionally recorded interview, and recording of your speech, professional headshots, and your speech transcribed and published into an Amazon book, making you an international author without having to write a single word – get in touch on email@example.com