Making powerful speeches

Bühne, drei Spots scheinen auf einen Tänzer, ringsherum ist es schwarz

It doesn’t have to be the lion’s den, but talking about your own product or a topic in a pitch or presentation is a challenge for many founders. As a rule, it is about nothing less than inspiring the audience, picking people up and taking them with you. To achieve this, you should follow a few rules – because not all speeches are the same.

Sabine Asgodom is one who has mastered this from the ground up. She has been performing on the big stages for more than 25 years and thrills her audience. She believes that a good speech is always a mixture of individuality and professionalism. In her opinion, it is helpful to think from the audience’s perspective: listeners want to be part of the speech. They don’t want to be lectured to, they don’t want stress and they don’t want to be burdened on top of their everyday lives. The aim is to leave the room with a good feeling.

Relevance and stories

In addition, what is being told must be relevant to the audience as well as to the message. What good are the best stories if they don’t fit the content at all? When they’re funny, but miss the point. Speaking of stories. They spice up a speech and give it the necessary drive. However, you should not be too fascinated by your own stories, but use the stories to emphasize or highlight insights. There is hardly anything more unpleasant than a speaker who takes himself/herself too seriously and forgets about the audience.

So be careful! Of course, not only personal stories are suitable, but also stories that you have heard from others. However, they should also be labeled accordingly. Speakers who adorn themselves with foreign feathers run the risk of being recognized as gossipers and liars. That would be embarrassing. In general, the stories should be told in a figurative language, they should be short and crisp, and you should leave out all the details that are not necessarily important. Listeners like stories that tell of mistakes and failure, but also those that are about love or values. This allows them to recognize themselves in the story. Less exciting are sprawling success stories. It’s great that someone has achieved something, but the audience is certainly far more interested in how someone achieved their success.

Facts, facts, facts…

Good speakers know little about many areas, while experts know a lot about one area. Anyone who gives speeches should have a good general education and be up to date with the latest information. Presenting old hats rarely goes down well with the audience. Of course, he or she must present his or her own topic competently. Statistics, reports, current figures – all of these are important because speakers want to show that they know their stuff and offer the audience added value. But beware of long-winded chains of figures. At some point, even the most ambitious listener falls asleep when facts follow facts and when the brain’s absorption capacity is exhausted.

Who is listening to me?

Something that should go without saying is unfortunately often forgotten – namely, tailoring the speech to the people sitting in the audience. Quite a few speakers reel off their program without responding to the audience. There is a difference between knowing you as a person, meaning you are part of the audience, and being bought in for a speech/lecture. Speaking in front of an association is different from speaking in front of a group of young people, in front of 10,000 people different from speaking in front of 50. A story or phrase that is appropriate for one group may be completely inappropriate for another. That’s why it makes sense to always arrive at the venue well before your own speech, perhaps even listen to the previous speaker or chat with some of the participants during the break.

Those who want to learn more or practice,

should take a look in their town or city to see if there are Toastmasters there. Toastmasters is an organization that aims to promote the art of public speaking and support people on their way to becoming speakers. Alternatively, many well-known speakers offer their own seminars, such as the aforementioned Sabine Asgodom. It’s definitely worth practicing a lot, because as Sabine Asgodom once said, “If you want to give an excellent speech, you have to have given many mediocre ones beforehand.”

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