Rob’s blog

Ep. 8: Consider all of your audiences

The folks in the room are just one of the audiences your speech is going to reach. Here's how to think through who else may be listening in... and how you'll account for them when you're writing your speech. Music: "Upbeat" by Jon Luc Hefferman, and Cheese by David...

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Ep. 7. Use plain language… but not just plain language

Plain language can make your speech a lot clearer, and allow your ideas and thinking to shine through. But there are times when speechwriters and speakers want to reach for the more complex words... and even use (gasp!) jargon. Music: "Upbeat" by Jon Luc Hefferman,...

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Ep. 6. Defend your narrative arc

Between "helpful" suggestions from others and your own creativity, it often isn't easy keeping a speech on topic and on track. Here are some tools for sticking to the path — and a few tips on handling unavoidable detours. Music: "Upbeat" by Jon Luc Hefferman, used...

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Ep. 5. Get vulnerable

You've probably always been told to project confidence and certainty  when you're speaking from the stage. But if you want to truly connect with your audience, a little vulnerability in your speech can go a long way. Links: Probably the best-known writer and...

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Ep. 4. Plot Your Emotional Arc

We've talked about your speech's one big story, the narrative arc. But running in tandem with it is something at least as important to your audience: the emotional arc. Music: "Upbeat" by Jon Luc Hefferman, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial...

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Ep. 3. Tell one big story… with your audience as the hero.

There are almost as many ways to approach writing a speech as there are speeches. But each one boils down to a story — one where the audience can identify with the protagonist, and that pulls them forward to the conclusion. Here's how to make your speech's story a...

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Ep. 2. Know your audience

Before you can move an audience to where you'd like them to be, you need to know them. And that means a lot more than a head count. Here's what to look for, and where to find it — so you know exactly how to reach and move them. Music: "Upbeat" by Jon Luc Hefferman,...

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Ep. 1: Know what you want to accomplish

The first thing you need to know before you start crafting a speech is this: what's your goal? What do you want your audience to think, feel and do at the end of your speech? Everything else follows from that. Links: One of my favourite speechwriting books: Dr. Nick...

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Tidings of discomfort and joy

You probably have the same instinct I do when you’re speaking to an audience. You want to make them feel at ease. Happy. Comfortable. That’s understandable. The most immediate sign that a speech is working is audience approval: nods, applause, even cheering. And we’re...

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My four watchwords for positive on-stage vulnerability

One of the most powerful ways a speaker can connect with their audience is to show a little vulnerability. Letting your guard down can assure your audience that they're seeing the real you. It may help them relate to you and your story, and it builds a bridge of trust...

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Vulnerability is your speech’s hidden strength

So you delivered your speech with grace and style, even a little humour. Your body language was relaxed, the material was useful, and everyone stayed engaged. Heck, they even clapped at the end. And you were confident — super confident — and sure of everything. But...

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Stop warming up on-stage

I had a massive "aha" moment about speaker coaching earlier today when I discovered a client likes to spend a few minutes at the beginning of a speech getting comfortable "and warming the crowd up." I realized abruptly that he isn't warming the crowd up — he's warming...

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