(By Heidi Raphael) Whether you are giving a speech, unveiling a big company announcement, or addressing a crisis situation, the way you communicate your message matters. Here are some tips that can help you in the process. It all comes down to the “power of 3” … three key messaging points that serve as the foundation of what you are trying to communicate to the audience you are trying to reach.
If it’s a company announcement …
- Here is what we are unveiling today (focus of announcement)
- Here is what it means (benefit to the end reader), and
- Here is what happens next.
Reach out to your contacts in the local and national media to share your good news.
If it’s a crisis situation …
- This is what happened (situation)
- This is where the situation currently stands (company’s position), and
- This is what is next in the process (next steps).
Every situation is different. Work closely with your general counsel, senior management team, and those directly involved in the situation. Ask questions and make sure you have all the facts in advance. Be prepared. Designate a spokesperson on behalf of the organization, create talking points for your management team to share with your employees, and get in front of the situation in a proactive way. Monitor and create messaging that can be used on social media. If you don’t get in front of it, you may end up dealing with a runaway train.
If you are writing a speech or asked to make acceptance remarks …
- Be bright
- Be brief, and
- Be gone!
How many times have you attended an event or conference where the person speaking would not stop talking, to the point that you had absolutely no idea what the speaker’s message was? If you are like me, I suspect more often than not.
Here are some tips…
Again, it all comes down to 3 key points:
- Do your homework and learn about who will be in your audience. Why are they there, and what matters to them? Tell the audience what you are going to be talking about (three key topics); talk about them and recap what you have told them.
- Find out how long you have to speak. Don’t go over; in fact, try to keep it under the limit. Your host will appreciate it and it will help keep the event on schedule; people in the audience will be grateful; and it will force you to truly focus on your topic at hand.
- Finally, connect with your audience in a real, relevant, and relatable way. Boil down your message in “common speak.” Interact with your audience — ask them questions. Tell a personal story that directly relates to the topic at hand. Some of the best commencement speeches have come from individuals who have connected to the audience in a real way. Who was the one person you have ever heard speak that wowed you? Why? Because something they said or did connected to you on a personal level.
If it’s your first time speaking, don’t be afraid to check out commencement speeches or presentations on YouTube. It’s usually a good idea to run your talk past one or two people for constructive criticism. Let them know they can be brutally honest in their comments. Or use your smartphone to video your speech so you can critique your own speech. Whenever possible, add humor, especially in your closing remarks. It will make you seem more relatable and personable, and will make the audience more receptive to your message. Imagine people leaving an auditorium or conference room with smiles on their faces. Message received!
Heidi Raphael is a broadcasting corporate communications and marketing specialist. She can be reached [email protected].