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Substance vs. Style

It doesn't matter how great your speech is written, if your delivery is boring. I see a familiar pattern in speeches. People put lots of work into their outlines, citations, and in formatting their pages correctly. Then they just recite the work they've prepared with a basic and uninteresting delivery. This totally takes away from all that good work they've put into the assignment. Don't neglect delivery.

A speech must be well written, that's very important. But equally important is making the delivery interesting and exciting for the audience. Be creative, make your speech different in some way. Give your audience a reason to listen to you. People dread listening to routine presentations. Try something different. Your audience will perk up and begin paying attention to you.

Here are some ideas about what that entails. Use multimedia, a brief audio clip or video. Pose relevant questions to the audience. Draw from your prepared points but deliver extemporaneously. Consider including humor in your speech if it's appropriate to the occasion. And it goes without saying that strong body language and vocal variety must be demonstrated.

Now, this idea can certainly go too far. That is, people can be totally unprepared while attempting to charm the audience with their overly stylistic performance. You don't want to go overboard, or to be seen as trying too hard. You must walk this fine line. A strong speech must be well prepared, and delivered in an entertaining fashion. You must mix substance and style.

So remember this notion. Your speech content is very important and you must have a worthwhile message. But you will bore the audience if you just read your whole speech or if you simply recite it verbatim. Make it interesting and different. Try to have fun with the speech. You'll enjoy the presentation more and, of course, the audience will too.