10 tips for giving speeches in tough economic times

How to motivate your audience to overcome obstacles.

  1. Tell it like it is. Authenticity is a rare commodity, especially when people speak to an audience. Avoid abstractions and keep it simple and concrete. Honest words win people over.
  2. Find common ground. Meet the audience at the place they are, then take them to the place you want them to be. Say “we” more often than “I” and create a bond with your audience.
  3. Deal with uncertainty and doubt. Admit to shared doubts and concerns. Identify challenges. Discuss the potential for failure if we don’t rise to the challenge.
  4. Be realistic. Don’t sugarcoat the situation, but quickly bridge to a vision of a better alternative. Ground the vision in reality. Share your vision with energy and enthusiasm.
  5. Put things in perspective. Both positive and negative stories can motivate. Tell how things are often much worse elsewhere. Show how others faced greater odds and came through. Set stretch goals and paint a picture of the rewards of achieving them.
  6. Speak from the heart. The best way to engage an audience is to tap into their emotions. Make your case with passion and purpose. Avoid the passive voice and use of qualifiers.
  7. Match your actions to the words of the speech. It is crucial that you are seen to “walk the walk.” Don’t fly in on a corporate jet to ask for a subsidy, and don’t award yourself a bonus when laying people off.
  8. Be aware of non-verbal communication. People will judge you on how you look as much as what you say. Use open gestures. Consider every aspect of your dress and manner.
  9. Keep your sense of humor. No matter how serious the situation, self-depreciating humor can break the ice. The audience who smiles with you is more sympathetic to your argument. Make sure that you connect humor to the point you are making. Keep it short and sweet, not long and drawn-out.
  10. Conclude with a call to action. At the end of your pitch, ask for something concrete. Outline specific steps that must be taken.
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