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I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed…

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today there will be World Speech Day events in some 100 countries across the globe. The theme for 2019 is World Citizen: It’s a State of Mind. Whether you’re giving a toast, addressing employees, or pitching a new idea, speeches are an opportunity to be heard. They have the power to unite communities, grow ideas, and change lives. Today’s blog celebrates the power of a speech.

Speech Types

Research from Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics shows that executives spend more than 18 hours a week in meetings. Not all speeches will be delivered to a crowd of 200,000 but what you say can still matter. In the corporate world, there are plenty of opportunities to speak up. There are many types of speeches, but most fall under one of these four categories:

Demonstrative. The purpose of this speech is to educate. A how-to on your latest product or a work seminar to upgrade skills.

Entertaining. This speech is generally short and informal. Think of a wedding toast or a roast. Include some personal stories and keep things light.

Informative. Details on a particular topic are on tap. A museum tour would fall under this banner, as would an expert brought in to talk to an economics class about financial trends.

Persuasive. This could be anything from a business pitch to stumping on the campaign trail. Your goal is to convince an audience of what you’re saying.

Elements of a Speech

A speech is nothing without words, but the same speech can be read by two people with very different effects. Even a great speech can fall flat in a transcription. Remembering a few tips can help you go from okay to memorable. Start with a well-crafted message (more on that below) and drive home your point with a powerful delivery. That doesn’t mean you need to shout or pound your fist on the table—connect with your audience by speaking with conviction and passion. Speak clearly and slowly. Find a way to feel relaxed, which will relax your audience. And don’t forget to practice! You don’t need to look in a mirror, but do say the words out loud. Any awkward phrasing or difficult pronunciations can be addressed and you can think about words or ideas you’d like to emphasize while working on body language.

When it comes to the content of a speech, pick a clear and specific message you want to communicate. Make it relevant to your audience with a beginning, middle, and end. Anecdotes can be a point of connection—is there a personal way to illustrate your topic? This makes what you’re saying more relatable and the audience will embrace the emotional aspect of sharing. Not to mention that it’s easier to tell a story you’ve lived. If you’re speaking to a group of young engineers, talking about your first job after university will resonate with them. Share your knowledge and experience with an audience who wants to learn from you.

Standing the Test of Time

World Speech Day is only four years old, but evidence of great speeches is much older. Socrates professed his innocence to an Athens jury in the 4th century B.C. Susan B. Anthony embarked on a speaking tour for female voting rights in 1873. Martin Luther King Jr. talked about his dream in 1963. These examples show the power of a speech delivered by a person who really believes their message. In 2005, Steve Jobs delivered a commencement address to Stanford students. For many, his words struck a chord. His speech has been viewed more than 10 million times.


Maybe the most important element of giving a good speech is confidence. Not everyone is comfortable with the thought of speaking in front of a group, regardless of the size. Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is quite common. It’s one of the reasons Toastmasters was started in 1924. This international club has more than 357,000 members in 143 countries. The format has helped countless people become more confident speakers, communicators, and leaders. Using a model based on small groups, members meet and practice in an effort to find a public speaking groove.

And Now, An Important Announcement

In our line of work, we see a lot of confident speakers. But there’s a difference between being recorded and speaking on-camera. Whether we’re shooting a webinar or a testimonial, we work with clients to make sure they’re comfortable and that their message is delivered. If you have a speech you’d like to record, give us a call. Your words can be personal musings for family, or  a rallying cry for an entire company. Whatever you have to say, we can work together to make sure you’re heard.

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