Speak to Engage Review

Photo by Rachel Sarah Thurston Photography
Photo by Rachel Sarah Thurston Photography

By: Lilly Erickson, AWC-SB Intern

Do you ever find yourself speaking in front of an audience but the words don’t come out right? You’re trying to share your message, make them believe in what you’re passionate about, but you can’t figure out what to say or how to say it.

On Wednesday, February 1, Lisa Braithwaite, founder of Speak to Engage, presented at our monthly AWC-SB meeting on how to move beyond these apprehensions to create a memorable experience for the listeners.

Lisa first emphasized the importance of engaging your audience, instead of focusing on yourself, to craft a message they won’t forget. Do this and your audience will leave the room with a drive to take action.

Crafting a emotionally engaging speech involves preparation. You must first know your two objectives: yourself and your audience. Ask yourself, what you want to achieve? Do you want media attention, or are you simply trying to build confidence in your own abilities? In terms of your audience, what do they need, want, and care about? Are they interested in money and fame, or security and recognition? What is your call to action? What do you want listeners to do as a result of your talk?

After understanding your objectives you can develop a compelling message that caters to your audience. Consider the structure of your message. Lisa pointed out, “If you don’t have a structure, you’re not taking your audience on a journey and they may not know how to get to your call to action.” Lisa described different types of structures:

  • The “sandwich” technique — cushioning bad news in the middle of your speech
  • Listing chronological events
  • Going global to local (e.g., the U.S. to Santa Barbara)

Keep in mind which structure would work best for your audience.

Lisa emphasized the importance of not talking about yourself when opening your speech. Rather, tell your audience why you want to speak to them. Some examples of effective openings are starting with a quote or story, leaving a cliffhanger (until your closing), or discussing a current event that pertains to your topic.

You must also have an intentional closing to your speech. Lisa warned against ending with Q&A because it kills the momentum you created. Alternatively, she suggests offering Q&A before your closing, then give your call to action to inspire your audience to take initiative.

The key to overcoming your uncertainty to effectively share your message involves connecting with your audience. Instead of focusing on the features of your message, take into account what benefits listeners will gain from your speech. Speak their language, bring them into your world, and you will, “Create a meaningful and memorable experience, and watch the results!”


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