People holding speech bubbles

Do you have a chance to make a speech about something dear to your heart? There’s really no better way to share your passion with a group of people than to speak with them face to face. Whether you just want to raise awareness of your cause, need to bring in funds or are looking for new support and volunteers here are some of my favourite quotes. Get ready to steady your nerves and share your passion.

1. Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care

Teddy Roosevelt

Many speakers start by introducing themselves, their background, their career history and their qualifications; it can be the worst way to begin. The first few words of your speech will help your audience decide if they are listening to you or think about a problem in their office. Few will find your PhD a reason to listen but believing you have a passion for what you’re doing will. During the speech don’t just share cold hard facts, share your visions and hopes and let them see that you care.
This quote has actually been attributed to many people but I don’t think that affects the truth in it.

2. They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel

Carl W. Buechner

Don’t feel that you have to have swathes of statistics and charts to make your point and share your passion. Show it by sharing an emotional story, in a way that doesn’t break confidences of course. Statistics do back up emotional choices but I’ve never heard anyone extolling the virtues of slide after slide of charts. Many will want to retell your story if it touches them though. When including statistics in your speech aim to be as vocally passionate as you would to your closest friend about them.  If you are telling them that “rates of abuse have doubled” it’s much more than a statistic to you; don’t be afraid to show it and share some of your feelings.

3. The audience doesn’t want you to be perfect they want you to be present

Malachi Talabi

It’s easy to feel that you need to get every word correct, every statistic, every quote, every name in your head, all right first time without fluff or fail.  
Of course, if you’re quoting figures you need to be truthful, but your speech doesn’t fail if you have a note to hand. Your audience will forgive an in-flight correction if you fluff from time to time as well;  they may even find it easier to connect with you if you don’t sound like you’re reciting for a school exam. Being authentic and present will have a much stronger chance of getting your message into their hearts.

4. The right word may be effective but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.

Mark Twain

Speakers are often nervous about any moments of silence but pauses have an amazing effect on an audience; a well-timed pause is a gift that your audience needs and deserves. Pauses in your speech build moments of suspense, allow the listener to take in concepts, expectations and implications of what’s been said; they give time to move from one idea and emotion to another.

As a speaker, it’s easy to feel that your pause is too long, that you need to keep speaking, that your audience will get bored, but in practice, this is very rarely the case. If you have been telling an emotional anecdote as you share your passion your audience will feel that emotion too. Don’t be afraid to let them share that emotion with you as you pause to compose yourself; let them reflect on what’s been said. Pauses will make your message all the stronger, don’t be afraid to use them.

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