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3 Simple Secrets for Public Speaking

Why talk about public speaking, you ask? Because speaking engagements are one of the best free ways to brand your nonprofit and reach out to new donors. I know some of you are dying inside at the thought. Or maybe you’re one of those weirdos who loves public speaking (and the rest of us secretly envy you). Regardless, there is one HUGE advantage speaking has over newsletters, emails, and social media:

You have a captive audience.

They can’t recycle you, delete you, or scroll past you. You have their eyes and ears exclusively for five, ten, sometimes thirty minutes.

Public speaking opportunities are one of the most direct ways to connect with your donors and potential donors. So, now I’ll drag you kicking and screaming through the three simple secrets of public speaking.

1. “The professional speaker needs stage fright; the amateur is overwhelmed by it.”

— Grant G. Gard, The Art of Confident Public Speaking

The first secret to public speaking is not getting over your stage fright. I learned this pretty early on as an actor and performing juggler. (Yes, I was in a juggling troupe for about eight years. Looks good on a resume.) The key is to harness that nervous energy to amp up your performance. It helped me act confidently, and the adrenaline helped me catch crazy passes I normally wouldn’t.

You know those stories of a mother lifting a car off of her child? Adrenaline, endorphins, etc. give us super abilities. By controlling your nervous energy, you can use adrenaline to boost your performance.

2. “What you say first is critically important because many listeners… are forming expectations of your presentation within the first seven to ninety seconds.”

— Dr. Brad McRae and David Brooks, The Seven Strategies of Master Presenters

I competed in forensics in high school and college. You know, the nerdy speech and debate type of forensics, not the CSI kind. (I know, not as exciting.) I learned the hard way that the best part of your speech had to be the first few sentences of your introduction. It was like a jab-uppercut combination. First sentence, POP, second sentence, BAM, and hopefully the judge would stick with you until the end.

Generally, you want your whole speech to be awesome. But you need to make sure your introduction and conclusion are KILLER. When writing your speech, start with the beginning and the end. Memorize them, practice them, know them so well that you’re having dreams about them. Then do the rest of your speech.

3. “In your own mind, you should start with the action you want your listeners to take and work backward from there.”

— Dale Carnegie Training, Stand and Deliver

The goal of your speech is to get people involved in your nonprofit. The end of your speech needs a “call to action,” or what you want your listeners to do with what you’ve told them. Many nonprofit speeches wander around in circles, leaving listeners wondering what the speaker is telling them to do.

So, tell them what they can do. People need specific steps which they can do right now:

  • Sign up to volunteer as a youth mentor
  • Attend your moonlight golf event
  • Take the exclusive access backstage tour
  • Pull out your phones, open your Facebook app, and follow/like our agency
  • Give $20 to provide ten meals for the homeless

Don’t send them home to think. Their emotional high will go down, and consequently, their motivation. Keep it focused, attainable, and immediate, and you will be pleased with your results.

Cat got your tongue? Dickerson, Bakker & Associates can not only help you craft your message, but also help you strengthen the organization behind your message. Contact us today!

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