Public Speaking Expert Hedi Keren Explains the Basics of Giving a Compelling Speech

Public speaking is one of those things that few of us love doing but is necessary when you’re trying to build a business. Luckily there are many experts out there who know what makes for a great speech. Labs mentor Hedi Keren, public speaking expert and consultant, held a Labs session all about the art of public speaking. Here are his top tips.

Don’t let your subconscious sabotage you

Being confident in your abilities is key to being an engaging speaker. If you don’t truly feel like you can do a great job, your subconscious will make sure you don’t, Keren says. “If you don’t believe it, your subconscious will tell you that you’re not good enough, that you’re not enough of an expert,” he says. “Then you body language and the words that come out of your mouth won’t be as effective.”

There are exercises you can do to help. “Mindfulness helps, and so do mantras,” Keren says. “Speak to yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re good, you’re funny, you have good things to share with the world, etc. It may feel silly at first but it’s unbelievable how it works.” You can also get your blood pumping before you start you speech. “When the body is pumped up, you start producing chemicals in your brain that help you feel more confident while speaking,” Keren says.

Get organized

Well before you’re due to give your speech, you need to know exactly what you’re going to say. “You have to organize yourself,” Keren says. “If you don’t prepare, you’ll get in front of the audience and start wondering about the best way to share the information in your mind right now, instead of already knowing how you’re going to share it.”

A key part of this prep involves making sure you’re not going to overwhelm your audience with information. “In the end, the audience only needs 10 to 20 percent of the information to do something about it,” Keren says. “And this is where a lot of people fall when public speaking. They start talking, a lot of information comes out, and give minutes after they finish, the audience doesn’t even remember one percent of what they said.”

Always go into a speech knowing your end goal

The key to putting together an engaging speech is knowing what you’re trying to accomplish with it. “Do you want people to buy something? To believe in something? To come to you afterwards and ask for help with their business? You need to know at the beginning what the bottom-line of your speech is,” Keren says. “And you build the speech based on that.”

Follow the F-15 thinking for your opening

Every speech needs a great opening that hooks the audience. And Keren likes to reference a famed public speaker named Eric Edmeades who calls the opening of any speech the F-15. “An F-15 is a plane that uses half of it’s fuel for take off, and the other half for the rest of the flight,” Keren explains. “This is an analogy for any great speech—you have to put a lot of energy into your opening. Open with a story or a question that will make people think and make them want to listen to what you have to say. You have to connect with them and get their attention.” And you have to do it fast. “With today’s attention spans, if you don’t get them in the first 20 to 30 seconds, you’re already behind,” Keren says.

Use a mix of logic and stories to share pertinent information

Once you’ve hooked the audience with your opener, “you get into what the topic is about,” Keren says. “And you have to explain what that topic is important or should be important to them.” It’s key that you don’t rely solely on logic to convince people that what you’re talking about matters. “Logic is not enough,” Keren says. “But if you tell them a story, that works better. You need to have some logic of course, but you also need to touch their hearts, and we do this with stories and by giving examples.”

“After you’ve explained why the topic matters through a combination of logic and stories, you’re free to talk about whatever you want,” Keren says. “That should be about 50 percent of the speech, giving them the information you want to give them.”

Address the elephant in the room

If you’re anticipating pushback or questions on a specific part of your speech, don’t shy away from it. “Talk about the elephant in the room,” Keren says. “Say I’m giving a speech about sales—why sales matter so much and how to become a great salesperson. A lot of people will be convinced by what I say, but others will think that you’re either born a great salesperson or you’re not. Talk about it instead of avoiding it, and convince them that you can turn yourself into a great salesperson.”

End on an engaging note

You’ve shared all of the information you wanted to share with the audience. Now you need to close the speech, and it needs to be strong. “You need to come up with a great quote or story,” Keren says. “People will remember the beginning and the end of your speech,” Keren says. “You could use a great quote or story, do a summary of what you spoke about, or ask people in the audience to share something they learned, for example. This brings in a bit of emotion, and will give you a stronger finish. And that’s the way to close a speech.”

Learn more about how to improve your public speaking skills.

This post is based on content from a WeWork Labs programming session.

Interested in connecting directly with this mentor? Ask your Labs Manager for help.

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