Maybe you’ve heard the question, “How do you eat an elephant?”  The answer, “One bite at a time.?”  It sounds simplistic but that’s how you tackle the challenge of writing a speech.  If you haven’t been asked yet, someday you will be.  It may be to give a toast at a wedding reception, a eulogy at a funeral, a presentation for your department at work or a keynote address at a conference.
Regardless of the occasion, more times than not the challenge is not in the speech itself, it’s in coming up with what to say (how to present your thoughts).
Keeping with the analogy, I’m asking you to indulge me a bit. Just as an elephant can be overwhelming to look at, being asked to stand up in front of anyone and give a speech (no matter how short or long) can be intimidating to say the least. I say this often, but the most important factor to consider when speaking is to ask yourself the question, “what is the one thing I want my audience to hear from me today?”
What is “THE TAKE-AWAY?”
Once you know that, it’s really just a matter of finding the best way possible to communicate “the take-away.”
There are three ways to appeal to your audience to drive home your point.  I didn’t come up with this.  In fact, it was the Greek Philosopher Aristotle who first presented this idea over 2,000 years ago.
Aristotle called this, The Persuasive Appeal. Each one builds on the other.
Aristotle said there are three ways to communicate a thought to your audience.
They are through –
1.  Ethos
2.  Logos
3   Pathos
Ethos is relying on ethics or your credibility as the person giving the speech. If you lack credibility or authority, you are at a disadvantage when trying to persuade your audience. In contrast, if you have credibility, you have a much better chance of gaining the attention and respect of your audience.
Logos refers to logic.  Make a logical appeal to your audience and they have reason to listen.  Convincing your audience through logical means and you have a much better chance of getting through to them.
Pathos can be argued has the power to provide the most persuasive appeal. Pathos plays on the emotions of your audience.  These emotions could be positive or negative.  For better or worse, we human beings are creatures of emotion.  Think of most of the advertising we see today, a large majority of its success hinges on how it “plays our emotions”.  If a television commercial can convince us that a product will make us happy, successful or satisfied there is a greater chance we’ll purchase that product.  If a service provides peace of mind, financial security or health, we’re all in.  Pathos is very powerful.
It’s impossible to cover all the ways these tools of persuasion can help you share a better story, but hopefully this gives you an idea and a place to start when it comes to making your speech one that moves your audience.

     Starting a business?  Forming an organization?  It all starts with . . . “Once upon a time.”  For any business to take off it really needs to be associated with a story.  Sometimes the story is true.  Other times, if you are developing a product or service, the story can be fictional.  It really doesn’t matter.  People relate to stories. It goes back to your childhood and the storybooks that drew us in.  For whatever reason, the human brain can wrap itself around a story when just plain facts and figures don’t connect.  That’s the reason a customer can be emotionally drawn to purchase or take advantage of an opportunity if they can relate that purchase or opportunity to a story.
     Most of the major brand names in business today began with a real life story and real life people.  The success and growth of many of these names was built on the stories behind the names.  You may not realize it but there actually was a Chef Boyardee.  Ettore “Hector” Boiardi was born in 1897 in Piacenza, Italy. He opened his first restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio in 1926.  The story goes on from there.  By contrast, there never was a real “Betty Crocker”.  The name, which is now an American baking icon was made up by the General Mills to put a “face” on their cake mix and in turn give homemakers a “person” to relate with.  In both cases, it worked.
     My point is this.  In order to stand out in an every increasingly crowded marketplace, you have to attract attention and separate yourself from everyone else trying to be heard.  There is no better way to attract attention and ultimately loyalty than with a story.  Your story may be one of rags to riches or an idea sparked from an inspirational encounter.  The key is to find a way to build your business or product around a story.
     Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal, says science backs up the long-held belief that story is the most powerful means of communicating a message.  Gottschall expounds upon this in an issue of Fast Company magazine.
     As a small start-up you may say to yourself, “I don’t have big marketing budgets and ad agencies to create massive campaigns.”  That may be true.  But you do have a story.  And the good news is, that story is unique to you.
      So, whats your story?

I hear all the time, “My story isn’t interesting.  Nothing special about me.”  It’s just not true.  We all have a unique story that the world needs to hear.

     In the Bible, we read the story of a man healed by Jesus.  When the religious leaders begin to question the man about his encounter with Jesus, they attempt to trap him in his own words, ultimately to trap Jesus.  They keep drilling him about how this happened and what does he think of this radical rabbi.  The man has one response and I love it.  He says, “all I know is once I was blind and now I see.”  In essence he’s telling them, “you figure out the rest.  I just know the facts, the outcome, the end result.”
     The mans answer provides a great lesson for you and me.  We all have a unique, compelling life story to share.  Granted, it may not be as dramatic as going from being blind to sight, but it’s worth sharing none the less.  You have a story.  It may be on the tip of your tongue or it may be bottled up deep inside.  Share your story.  The world needs to hear it.

You’re called on to deliver a presentation at work or someone asks you to speak at a dear friends funeral or maybe give a toast at a wedding reception. We’ve all been there. Our mind goes blank. What do I say? How do I start? I just can’t do this!!

Relax. Learn to incorporate these three key concepts and you’ll do fine.

1. Just Be Yourself. I know it sounds simplistic. but I tell my college class at the beginning of each semester, the most important thing to remember when addressing any kind of audience is to be who you are. The legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey once said that if you try to be someone else, the very best you can ever hope to be is second best. There is only one you. Be the best you, you can be. (tweet that).

2. Share Stories. People relate to stories. It’s that simple. Pretend you’re sitting with some friends over a casual cup of coffee. Tell them a story that relates to the topic you’re speaking on. Doesn’t matter if it’s a serious occasion, a business presentation or toasting a friend at his retirement. Everyone relates to a good story.”Do you remember as a kid? … Have you ever? … It was a snowy evening and we decided to head out in the cold to pick up a pizza.” You get the idea. Stories engage audiences immediately. Begin with a story. End with a story.

3. Stick With The ONE. Whenever you speak, I don’t care what the occasion, decide the one thing you want to leave with your audience. Not three things, not five, the one. When all is said and done, what do I want them to remember? It could be: You only live once. Dreams can come true. Bob is the most loyal friend I know. The ability of your audience to retain what you say is limited. They will remember stories and the main point you emphasize. Once you decide on “the one thing”, find ways to repeat it. Drive it home several times during your talk.

Follow these three steps and watch your presentation move to a new level. If you want more helpful tips like this, sign up for my blog. I’ll also let you know about more upcoming practical information I will be sharing in the weeks to come.