10 Keys To Writing A Speech

“This is my time.”

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That attitude will kill a speech every time.
You’ve probably sat through some lousy speeches. Despite the speakers’ renown, you eventually tuned them out over their self-indulgent tangents and pointless details. You understood something these speakers apparently didn’t: This was your time. They were just guests. And your attention was strictly voluntary.

Of course, you’ll probably deliver that speech someday. And you’ll believe your speech will be different. You’ll think, “I have so many important points to make.” And you’ll presume that your presence and ingenuity will dazzle the audience. Let me give you a reality check: Your audience will remember more about who sat with them than anything you say. Even if your best lines would’ve made Churchill envious, some listeners will still fiddle with their smart phones.

In writing a speech, you have two objectives: Making a good impression and leaving your audience with two or three takeaways. The rest is just entertainment. How can you make those crucial points? Consider these strategies:

1) Be Memorable: Sounds easy in theory. Of course, it takes discipline and imagination to pull it off. Many times, an audience may only remember a single line. For example, John F. Kennedy is best known for this declaration in his 1961 inaugural address: “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what can do for your country.” Technically, the line itself uses contrast to grab attention. More important, it encapsulated the main point of Kennedy’s speech: We must sublimate ourselves and serve to achieve the greater good. So follow Kennedy’s example: Condense your theme into a 15-20 word epigram and build everything around it top-to-bottom.
There are other rhetorical devices that leave an impression. For example, Ronald Reagan referred to America as “a shining city on the hill” in speeches. The image evoked religious heritage, freedom, and promise. And listeners associated those sentiments with Reagan’s message. Conversely, speakers can defy their audience’s expectations to get notice. In the movie Say Anything, the valedictorian undercut the canned optimism of high school graduation speeches with two words: “Go back.” In doing so, she left her audience speechless…for a moment, at least.
Metaphors…Analogies…Surprise…Axioms. They all work. You just need to build up to them…and place them in the best spot (preferably near the end).

2) Have a Structure: Think back on a terrible speech. What caused you to lose interest? Chances are, the speaker veered off a logical path. Years ago, our CEO spoke at our national meeting. He started, promisingly enough, by outlining the roots of the 2008 financial collapse. Halfway through those bullet points, he jumped to emerging markets in Vietnam and Brazil. Then, he drifted off to 19th century economic theory. By the time he closed, our CEO had made two points: He needed ADD medication – and a professional speechwriter!

Audiences expect two things from a speaker: A path and a destination. They want to know where you’re going and why. So set the expectation near your opening on what you’ll be covering. As you write and revise, focus on structuring and simplifying. Remove anything that’s extraneous, contradictory, or confusing. Remember: If it doesn’t help you get your core message across, drop it.

3) Don’t Waste the Opening: Too often, speakers squander the time when their audience is most receptive: The opening. Sure, speakers have people to thank. Some probably need time to get comfortable on stage. In the meantime, the audience silently suffers.

When you write, come out swinging. Share a shocking fact or statistic. Tell a humorous anecdote related to your big idea. Open with a question – and have your audience raise their hands. Get your listeners engaged early. And keep the preliminaries short. You’re already losing audience members every minute you talk. Capitalize on the goodwill and momentum you’ll enjoy in your earliest moments on stage.

4) Strike the Right Tone: Who is my audience? Why are they here? And what do they want? Those are questions you must answer before you even touch the keyboard. Writing a speech involves meeting the expectations of others, whether it’s to inform, motivate, entertain, or even challenge. To do this, you must adopt the right tone.
Look at your message. Does it fit with the spirit of the event? Will it draw out the best in people? Here’s a bit of advice: If you’re speaking in a professional setting, focus on being upbeat and uplifting. There’s less risk. Poet Maya Angelou once noted, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Even if your audience forgets everything you said, consider your speech a success if they leave with a smile and a greater sense of hope and purpose. That’s a message in itself. And it’s one they’ll share.

5) Humanize Yourself: You and your message are one-and-the-same. If your audience doesn’t buy into you, they’ll resist your message too. It’s that simple. No doubt, your body language and delivery will leave the biggest impression. Still, there are ways you can use words to connect.

Crack a one liner about your butterflies; everyone can relate to being nervous about public speaking. Share a story about yourself, provided it relates to (or transitions to) your points. Throw in references to your family, to reflect you’re trustworthy. And write like you’re having a casual conversation with a friend. You’re not preaching or selling. You’re just being you. On stage, you can be you at your best.

6) Repeat Yourself: We’ve all been there. When someone is speaking, we’ll drift off to a Caribbean beach or the Autobahn. Or, we’ll find ourselves lost and flustered when we can’t grasp a concept. Once you’ve fallen behind, it’s nearly impossible to pay attention. What’s the point?

In writing a speech, repetition is the key to leaving an impression. Hammer home key words, phrases, and themes. Always be looking for places to tie back and reinforce earlier points. And repeat critical points as if they were a musical refrain.

As a teenager, my coach continuously reminded us that “nothing good happens after midnight.” He’d lecture us on the dangers of partying, fighting, peer pressure, and quitting. After a while, my teammates and I just rolled our eyes. Eventually, we encountered those temptations. When I’d consider giving in, coach would growl “Schmitty” disapprovingly in my head. Despite my resistance, coach had found a way to get me to college unscathed. He simply repeated his message over-and-over until it stuck.

Some audience members may get annoyed when you repeat yourself. But don’t worry how they feel today. Concern yourself with this question: What will they remember six months from now?
7) Use Transitions: Sometimes, audiences won’t recognize what’s important. That’s why you use transitional phrases to signal intent. For example, take a rhetorical question like “What does this mean” – and follow it with a pause. Silence gets attention – and this tactic creates anticipation (along with awakening those who’ve drifted off). Similarly, a phrase like “So here’s the lesson” also captures an audience’s interest. It alerts them that something important is about to be shared. Even if they weren’t paying attention before, they can tune in now and catch up.

8) Include Theatrics: During his workshops, Dr. Stephen Covey would fill a glass bowl nearly full with sand. From there, he’d ask a volunteer to place rocks into the bowl. In the exercise, rocks represented essentials like family, job, worship, and exercise, while the bowl signified the volunteer’s time and energy. It never failed: The volunteer couldn’t fit every rock in the bowl. The sand – which embodied day-to-day activities like transporting children, shopping, or reading – took up too much space. Something had to be cut. Usually, it was something essential.

Covey would then encourage his volunteer to consider another option: Start with placing a rock in the bowl, adding some sand, and then alternating rocks and sand until the bowl was full. Like magic, there was suddenly enough space for both, as the sand gradually filled any gaps between the rocks. The message: Maintain balance. Never lose sight of the essentials as you tend to the day-to-day (and vice versa).

Of course, Covey could’ve made his point verbally and moved on. Instead, he illustrated it with household items in a way his audience wouldn’t soon forget. If you have a smaller audience (or a video screen), consider incorporating visuals. Keep the props, storyline, and lesson simple. When you’re done, leave everything out to symbolize your point to your audience. Whatever you do, don’t play it safe. If you do, your speech will be forgotten in no time.

9) End Strong: In 2004, I attended a Direct Marketing Association (DMA) conference. I don’t recall much about our keynote speaker, except that he was tall and southern. I can’t even remember what his address was about. But I’ll never forget the story he used to close his speech.

The speaker was a friend of Jerry Richardson, owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. A few years earlier, the Panthers had drafted a fiery wide receiver named Steve Smith. While Smith excelled on the field, he was a nightmare in the locker room. Eventually, Smith was arrested for assaulting a teammate during film study.
Already reeling from bad publicity from other player incidents, Richardson was pressured to cut Smith. But he chose a different path. Richardson vowed to spend more time with Smith. He decided that Smith would be better served with guidance and caring than further punishment. Eventually, Richardson’s patience paid off. Smith became the Panthers’ all-time leading receiver – and scored a touchdown in their only Super Bowl appearance. In fact, Smith still plays for the Panthers to this day.

If the speaker intended to remind me how powerful that personal attention and forgiveness could be, he succeeded in spades. Fact is, your close is what your audience will remember. So recap your biggest takeaway. Tie everything together. Share a success story. Make a call to action. Don’t hold anything back. Your ending is what audience will ultimately talk about when they head out the door.

10) Keep it Short: What is the worst sin of public speaking? It’s trying to do too much! Your audience’s attention will naturally wane after a few minutes. They have other places to be – and don’t want to be held hostage. And the longer you stay on stage, the more likely you are to stray and make mistakes. So make your points and sit down. Never forget: This is their time, not yours.

 

Source Jeff Schmitt – Forbes.com 

http://onforb.es/PsOlcn

3 Ways to Get More Business Donations & Raise More Money

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Many national companies prefer to use a single point of contact to help streamline their donation
request fulfillment process. Clearinghouses fulfill this function by helping match schools and
nonprofit organizations with businesses that want to help.

Most clearinghouses offer both a free service platform and a paid one. My suggestion is to try
the free platform and see if you like it.

If you do, then it’s well worth the extra fee to use the paid platform. Why? Because it provides
even more business donation matches for your group and therefore helps you raise a lot more
money.

The best one – and the easiest to use – is called Donation Match.
Donation Match – Find hundreds of donated items for fundraising auctions, raffles, gift bags, or
giveaways with just a few clicks. Use their custom application to reach multiple companies and
brands who value your event audiences, all in one place. This is as easy peasy at it gets!

Bidding For Good – Primarily does online auctions for nonprofit groups, but also has donated
items from businesses that they can add to your auction. This is an easy way to raise money
online as long as you have enough active supporters willing to make enough bids online.

Good360 – This is a good source for surplus products from businesses. NOTE: These product
donations cannot be auctioned off to raise funds. These products also cannot be sold, traded or
bartered or be given as gifts to volunteers or sold in thrift shops. All product donations MUST be
given to the needy, ill, and youth that you serve in your community. Groups must also pay
administrative fees and shipping charges.

Want to start a friendly bidding war among your guests?

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Signed music or sports memorabilia, including autographed footballs, baseball shirts or other equipment from your region’s favorite team, is guaranteed to attract top bidders, raising 370%-630% of their FMV. Also popular are tickets to local sporting events. You’ll always find a couple of fans willing to bid high to support their team, particularly star players.

Fine dining restaurants, such as steak houses or celebrity establishments appeared numerous times making 330%-460% of their FMV. Happily, restaurant certificates are generally easy to come by, as restaurant owners enjoy the promotion they receive by being included in a charity auction.

Following the dining theme above, luxury kitchenware like a high-end knife collection or the latest coffee maker, inspire those looking to find a practical deal for their home.

Fashion is always a good category to include in any auction. High-end items from designer favorites like Tory Burch, Diane von Furstenburg, Michael Kors or Ralph Lauren, do very well, especially during our Fall events as we move into the holiday season. Handbags, shopping certificates and accessories are among the most highly sought fashion items.

Travel; whether a pair of airline tickets or a weekend stay at a Disney resort always generates excitement, with our top item this year, a weekend in New York City selling for 460% of the item’s FMV. Guests are just as happy to bid on a domestic trip over an international one, as there is less paperwork and organization involved, so concentrate your volunteer’s search efforts at home.

Unique experience packages. VIP seating box access at a concert, an opportunity to drive your dream car, or a private tour of the Coca Cola factory, are some examples of experiences we’ve seen do really well this year. For something truly special reach out to well-connected board members or spend time brainstorming with your volunteer committee to see what unique relationships they may have. Be sure to promote these big impact items before the event (our online pre-bidding package makes this easy) and encourage your auction volunteers to point them out to guests.

General rule; anything that is unique, one of a kind, or limited will do very well at your event. Initially, a donation from a high-end fashion house or a weekend stay at a luxury hotel may seem impossible to achieve, but check back with our blog soon for advice on the best way to achieve these items for your next auction.

 

Getting Media Coverage

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When non-profit organizations aren’t out changing the world, they’re appealing to supporters and the public for donations. Fundraising is a constant challenge for non-profit organizations and it’s not because people don’t want to give the money –it’s because people don’t always know that there’s a need. That changes by getting media coverage.

 

Fundraising efforts include direct mailings, advertising, and marketing campaigns. Each of these is costly and there’s no way to guarantee return on investment. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to gain exposure and elicit donations without having to dip into the coffers? You can –they’re called “editorial placements” or as we in media relations like to say “free advertising”.

Newspapers and magazines live and die by their content. If people don’t want to read what they’re printing, they’re in trouble. Being able to offer a print publication (or even a broadcast network) with a story that will entertain, educate, or inspires its readers is a challenge, but well worth it if it’s printed.

Which of the following newspaper placements do you think will garner more public response: an ad placed in the “weekender”or “volunteer opportunity”sections describing your organization and asking for donations; or a touching feature story about how the organization is making a difference in the community?

The feature story will almost undoubtedly send more people to an organization’s Web site than an ad, and the funny this is that the feature story cost the organization nothing to secure.

Why does the public respond more strongly to a feature than an ad?

Because appearing in the media provides instant legitimization. People tend to trust the organizations or people they see in the paper or on TV.

If you run a non-profit animal shelter that is featured on the weekend nightly news’adopt-a-pet segment, chances are the public will think of you first when looking to adopt a pet as opposed to if you simply placed an ad in the Sunday paper every week.

So how do you obtain “free advertising?”By reaching out to the media every chance you get. Smaller organizations that utilize community support can offer personal feature stories on certain overachieving volunteers.

The media loves a good “feel good”story: how one volunteer has made such a difference, how a beneficiary of the organization’s services is thriving now, and so on.

How did your organization start? Did someone sell their business to establish a women’s shelter? Does a local mother care for homeless animals on her farm?

Publicity ideas

Here are some ideas to help inspire you to develop a story for your organization or cause.

 

Every person has a story. Discover the stories behind the people in your organization and make the media aware of them. By “story,”I mean a simple, conversational story –the type you might tell a friend.

Pitching a story to the media doesn’t mean you have to write it and offer it in its entirety. When you pitch a story, you simply let your media contact know about it. They’ll decide if it’s a fit and pursue it further.

To get an idea of the kinds of stories the paper and local networks like, spend a few weeks tuning in or scanning the pages. It will be obvious the kinds of things they’re looking for.

Pay close attention to the journalists and reporters who write on topics related to yours. These are the people you are going to want to contact with your story.

Local outlets want local stories, and this can represent multiple opportunities for media coverage. For instance, if the person your story focuses on lives in a town other than where your organization is based, you can pitch the story to both locales.

Let the world know what’s happening. Hosting or sponsoring an event can garner more attention than a two-line announcement in the calendar section.

What is the story surrounding your event? If you’re launching a clothing drive for professional attire to help women get jobs, highlight a success story, such as a woman associated with your organization who overcame hardships and landed a great job that changed her life.

If you’re hosting a casual fun-day dog show for kids to benefit a local animal shelter, find a pet owner who plans to enter his or her adopted shelter dog.

Even your fundraising events can be promoted through editorial placements. You don’t have to have a high-profile MC or a gala to make the news. If this is an annual event, how do you expect to surpass last year’s donations? How were the funds used? If they built a library or added a wing to a senior center, what’s the story behind that?

Announce Everything

Organizations in large cities face direct competition for donations and media coverage. To help improve your chances of media attention, do everything you can to stay in the news (or at least in the minds of the news writers in your area).

 

Is there a staffing change or new hire (a positive one)? Announce it. If you’ve added a service to your organization, announce it. In sales and marketing, a consumer needs to hear about a product seven times before he or she will buy it, on average.

The same is true for donations to non-profits. The more often the public sees your organization in print or hears about it on the radio or on television, the more likely they will be to consider donating. Keep that in mind the next time you’ve got news to share!

Media relations is about building relationships and having an idea of what the public wants. It’s not as complicated as it may seem, after all, you are the public.

What do you want to read? What would be interesting to you? Talk to your co-workers and friends and find out their opinions.

Identify the media people in your area who cover the types of things you and your organization do and begin to build a relationship. Before you know it, you may have them calling you for a story.