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

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Human centerpieces and performance art served up at gala.

MOCa Galal Centerpiece

How do you even begin to find the words to describe a museum gala for which each and every guest (Eli Broad, even) is required to wear a white lab coat, and at which the table centerpieces are live humans, and the dessert is an offering of edible body parts?

Epic. That’s what the Museum of Contemporary Art’s annual gala was on Saturday night. Titled “An Artist’s Life Manifesto,” the event was conceived by performance artist Marina Abramovic. And it managed to generate its share of controversy before it even got off the ground. The use of humans as centerpieces, which dancer Yvonne Rainer called “exploitative” and “a grotesque spectacle,” manifested itself, in part, in nude prone female bodies rotating in the center of several large round tables. (What was grotesque was that, as Abvramovic put it, she was “allowed” to use nude female bodies, but not male ones.)

Other tables had live human heads poking through. Cards at each place setting instructed guests to “look but don’t touch” the performers. “The centerpiece will observe you. You may observe the centerpiece. No touching, feeding, offering drink, or disrespecting the centerpiece. All communication and connection with the centerpiece must be non-verbal.” And so on.

(If you think the performance art aspect was limited to the efforts of these performers alone, we suggest you try to eat a frisee salad while being silently judged by your centerpiece.) MOCA Gala1

The piece was designed to provoke and disturb, and it worked.The lab coats, which everyone was asked to don on the way into the gala tent, were designed to make guests part of the experiment. They also leveled the fashion playing field — to interesting effect — and made some of the Hollywood pretties look like cast members straight out of “General Hospital.”

The event, which raised $2.5 million for the museum, culminated in a performance by Deborah Harry followed by the offering up of body parts for dessert — in the form of two life-size cakes that were perfect doppelgangers for Abramovic and Harry. After the two ladies plunged their steely knives into their confectionery doubles, reaching inside to rip out the “hearts,” waiters dismembered the toes, breasts, etc., and served them to guests. A surreal scene if ever there was one.

By way of introducing MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch, Broad described the last two years at the museum as a “spectacular turnaround.” The museum’s endowment has doubled and attendance has tripled during Deitch’s tenure, Broad, a MOCA trustee, said.

Deitch called Abramovic “the most influential performance artist working today.”

When the artist took the stage, she said, “it has not been easy to force you all into lab coats. But I like the idea of transformation.” She thanked the 120 performance artists participating in the evening’s work, some of whom had to hold their position and concentration for four hours.

Gov. Jerry Brown and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa were among the high-profile guests. From the art world, Doug Aiken, Ed Ruscha, Kenneth Anger and Mark Bradford were there. Hollywood types included Liz Goldwyn, Dita von Teese, Kirsten Dunst, Gwen Stefani, Will Ferrell and Nicole Richie. There were plenty of fashion folks too — Monique Lhuillier, Jeremy Scott, Chrome Hearts’ Richard and Laurie Stark, Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor, and Cameron Silver. Hedi Slimane was in the house as well. The designer-turned-photographer opened an exhibition at the museum’s Pacific Design Center space on Friday, titled “California Song.”

Before the lab coats went on, some spectacular outfits made a quick appearance. Von Teese was in a Jean Paul Gaultier gown (she had just accompanied the designer to the opening of his retrospective at the Dallas Museum of Art). The artist Rosson Crow was in a fit ‘n’ flare vintage Don Loper gown, and Gelila Puck had her hair in a 1920s coif, in the spirit of her flapper-esque hand-painted James Galanos gown. Scott no doubt was wearing one of his own designs — a gold tuxedo vest sans shirt — and Lisa Eisner had on a festive full skirt trimmed in fur. Wanda McDaniel was representing for her boss, wearing a fun dress with Giorgio Armani’s face on the front.

The white lab coats might have made it hard to see the fashion statements, but they made a statement themselves. As the lab-coated people decamped to the valet line, we wondered aloud about one more piece of performance art.

We’d all make one heck of a flash mob at the local emergency room.

Article via LA Times– Booth Moore and Adam Tschorn

Photos: At top, one of the several tables at the MOCA gala’s “An Artist’s Life Manifesto,” directed by Marina Abramovic on Nov. 12, 2011. At middle, left, Will Ferrell and Monique Lhuiller at the MOCA gala. Credit: Both by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for MOCA. At right, Deborah Harry performs while being carried onto the stage at the MOCA gala. Credit: John Sciulli / Getty Images for MOCA.

 

Create the perfect environment for giving

Creating a perfect environment for giving can be a carefully balanced dance that is perfected over time. The most important tip is to ALWAYS HAVE AN END RESULT. Figure out what the goal is and aim for that. Otherwise, you may be all over the place doing the tango back and forth. Here are some tips on creating this perfect environment for giving:

1. VISUAL

Adding a PowerPoint to your Live Auction will not only showcase your live items,but it is also visually appealing. People are attracted to large images and have a very short concentration span. Tease them with a visually appealing image and let them taste what you are auctioning. Use images to generate excitement and dollars! What more could you ask for than Lakers tickets with a picture of Kobe Bryant. They may never meet Kobe, but the thought of possibly meeting him is there.

  • Powerpoint Tips:
    • Place one item per slide
    • Put the item Number on the slide
    • Place the Title on the slide
    • Add a Graphic (1 or 2)
    • Who donated it (example What class/teacher)
    • Bullet point description of the item
    • Following these steps will create interest to sell the item. Most of all it will keep your guests focused and bid!

2.  MISSION PROMOTION

Remind your guests why they are there. It is easy to get lost in conversation, food, drinks and networking. Tell a story through pictures and quotes. Keep your audience focused on the mission and the big picture of how they are benefiting a cause.

3. WALLPAPER IT UP!

Your guests want to have fun, this is a night away to mingle and give back! So, have fun with it. Be creative! Mix your slides up using the tips below and you have what we call Auction Wallpaper.  This can be rotating in the background on your tv’s to remind your audience about why they are there.

  • Compile 100-200 pictures to show your great cause
  • Have them on a 3-5 second loop
  • Add quotes form past guests and sponsors
  • Add Sponsors Logos
  • Include Auction items
  • Display the Sponsors Logos
  • Add any other Facts about the Charity

REMEMBER:

1. Have a goal!

2. Remind your guests of the mission you are promoting

3. Be creative!

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Want to know the difference between a Professional Benefit Auctioneer and a Volunteer Auctioneer?

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A volunteer auctioneer could be the most costly expense of your entire event. Some may think anyone with a strong voice and a sense of humor can lead an auction. Unfortunately you will never know how much money a volunteer auctioneer has left in the room.

A professional auctioneer, one who specializes in fundraising auctions keeps up the tempo, adds new revenue streams like ‘Fund A Need’ that will make a huge difference for your bottom line. A professional benefit auctioneer’s job is to know how to spur on bidding and they will know at the exact moment to say “sold.”

An amateur volunteer auctioneer is the MOST EXPENSIVE cost of your fundraiser auction you can lose thousands of dollars at your charity benefit auction. A professional auctioneer does not cost money!!! They will raise more money. Beahm Auction Group’s fundraising auctioneer experts and consultants are able to maximize your fundraising and keep the event exciting! This will keep your guest coming back event after event!

 

Art Party Theme

How clever is this idea for an Artsy Party/Event. Setting the mood of a fun evening sure to be talked about for a long time. The theme carries through from an artistic detailed candy station to the ‘poured paint’ appearance of centerpieces. Fun, hip and unique!

 

For more themed ideas click HERE to visit our PINTEREST page

Donation Party 2014

We had such a fantastic evening full of wine, food and good company. Thank you to everyone who joined us and for your support. Guests were treated to a tasting from the following wineries:

Frank Family

  • Frank Family Reserve Chardonnay

DumOL Wines

  • DumOL Clair Chardonnay –  This was one of our favorites – it can be very hard to find this wine outside of the winery, however we did – Lucky us! This winery is a  great location to host a donation party.

Bremer Family Winery

Bremer is a wonderful family winery with lots of places to explore. Located on the slopes of Howell Mountain in the Napa Valley.

welcome

  • Bremer Chardonnay
  • Bremer Clarit

Hunnicutt

  • Hunnicutt Cabernet sauvignon

ZD Wines

  • ZD Wines Chardonnay

During the evening  guests also tasted Premium Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars from Pairings located in Roseville. Ending the evening with a delicious dessert was a huge hit. Click here for the Carrot Cake with Ginger Mascarpone Frosting Recipe by Ina Garten’sDELICIOUS!!

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Thank you to Ivy Negal – A  Stella and Dot stylist (Jewelry) set up a pop-up shop so our guests can explore beautiful jewelry throughout the evening. Ivy also donated fabulous bobbles and we were able to earn points to buy Stella and Dot gems for donation.

This event was a success and a really great way to gather items for our upcoming auction. Each guest was asked to support the Active Auctioneers Foundation and bring a bottle of wine for donation towards the next event – January 10, 2015. SAVE THE DATE!

Fundraising Auction Quality Sound & Lighting Systems

Maximize your Revenue!

By Beahm Auction Group

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For Benefit Auctions, “Auction Quality” sound and lighting serves in the best interest to maximize revenue and adds to the quality of guest experience. Any use of the venue’s built-in house sound system is not acceptable for afundraising auction. In some cases DJ or band sound may be fine depending on your room setup. It is critical for each guest to hear and become engaged in fundraising throughout every phase of your event. Here are some important factors to design the optimum sound and lighting system to raise the most money and excitement at a benefit auction.

Written Proposal – Get a written sound and lighting proposal with equipment specifications, placement of speakers on the floor plan/s. Make sure all the costs are included, including equipment, labor for set up, event, and break down. Appoint a key committee member to be the liaison with the sound company to insure that they DO set up the EXACT sound system that you approved for the night of the auction!!! Schedule early, good sound companies are booked sometimes a year in advance.

Sound – MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR: Absolutely, every guest must be able to hear clearly at BOTH silent and live auctions over the loud talking and clanking of dishes that occurs at a benefit auction. The best design for sound involves placing high quality speakers on stands surrounding the entire audience–that is speakers all the way around the auction venue. Include at least 1 to 2 stage monitors on the stage, depending on the stage size. Make sure the stage monitor settings are the same as the speakers that surround the room. The sound engineer must make sure there are no “dead sound zones” in either the silent or live auction venue. Remember, there is always a higher level of concentrated noise in the silent auction area, requiring ample speakers. If there are some areas of “transition” like hallways/foyer/extra tent, it is a good idea to have some speaker on stands in that location so that all guests can know can hear announcements. It’s essential to focus on the transition from silent to live. If there is not proper sound and excitement, your guests will get “stuck” loosing valuable time and energy. It’s critical to stay on your timeline so that you have a quick and smooth transition to dinner, program and live auction.

Professional Sound Company – It is vital to select a sound company that will support your needs to focus on a great sound system that will be designed specifically for you. The sound company needs to know that your guests will talk A LOT and there will be food service and dishes clanking and that is ok with you and ok with the auctioneer; it is normal for this type of event. The sound system needs to be designed with talking audience and noise as a given. You will need technical operator to be in attendance the entire time in both silent and live areas, this is critical. They need to be ready for a sound check 1.5 hours prior to doors opening…that means ready, not just finishing up the wiring etc.

Hand-held Cordless Microphones – You need hand-held cordless microphones-high quality for:

1. Auctioneer

2. General speakers

3. Fund a Need speaker

4. Backup microphone

5. If you have Professional Auctioneer Bid Spotters, each needs a hand-held mic too.

BAND/MUSIC/DJ – If you are using a band, DJ and music to accompany the live auction, do a run through rehearsal with the band leader/DJ with sound and lights at least one hour prior to doors opening. The band will have some sound requirements, so make sure to coordinate these needs and communicate it so that it can be written into the sound and lighting specs.

Pre-Event Sound Check

It’s imperative to also do a complete sound check for all the persons who will be using a microphone. Remember once all the levels are set according to the specific auctioneer’s requirement – please ask the sound technician NOT to change the levels. Each sound system is different and it’s imperative to practice and get the sound correct BEFORE guests arrive – it will really make a difference in your fundraising!

LIGHTING

Indoor Venues

Bring house lights UP and as full as possible for the Heads and Tails, Live Auction and Fund a Need. NEVER any spotlights on auctioneer, period. It is impossible to see the guests and bidding activity. Make sure you have strong lighting at the Silent Auction and Live Auction displays. You can light the stage with down lights or lights from the side. Definitely install a dimmer switch so that lights can be turned full for live auction and adjusted for other phases of the evening.

Outdoor Tents – It’s imperative to have lighting levels that guests can read the silent auction bid forms and descriptions and their auction catalogs. Remember that many guests need reading glasses and can not see well in low light. Place 3-4 flood lights on tent poles directed up to create great ambient light. Make sure you have strong lighting at the Silent Auction and Live Auction displays. You can light the stage with down lights or lights from the side. Definitely install a dimmer switch so that lights can be turned full for live auction and adjusted for other phases of the evening.

Pre-Event Lighting Rehearsal – It’s imperative to also do a lighting rehearsal to practice the lighting transitions – since the lighting levels change during different phases of the event, everyone will be prepared and you will maximize fundraising and guest engagement and enjoyment.

© 2014 Beahm Auction Group. All rights reserved.