Leaders and Speaking skills

I’ve been a member of Toastmaster International for a few years. I guess you could say public speaking is a hobby. I like to prepare speeches, deliver them and try to improve my presentation style.

I attend several town hall meetings, company wide meetings every year. These can be long and drawn out. Perhaps it is my Toastmaster training but i always find myself examining every speaker’s. Try to see what could be done differently to improve the effectiveness of their speech. I always believe that when you speak to an audience you are in a unique leadership position. You are in a position to influence people’s thought. A good speech should –

  1. Start off a clearly stated vision of where you are going and where you would like to take the audience.
  2. List out how you are going to do it.
  3. State your rationale behind it with facts and examples.
  4. Conclude with a call to action and give specifics on what people should do and where they can go to get more info.

Also, practice your delivery with sufficiently voice modulation and body movement.

If you do not put effort into preparing well, your speech will fall flat and you will fail in your attempt to influence people. The ability to speak professionally in a public forum is a powerful tool. The ability to sway a mob with your words is extremely powerful. I always wonder why more leaders don’t take the time to practice their speaking skills. It is one of the best ways to invest your time developing your leadership skills.

I was watching this video by Nandan Nilekhani. An icon in Indian corporate culture. Interesting speech.

My comments here are not necessarily about the content of that speech. Its more about presentation style.

What i like about Nandan’s speech is how it is organized. He starts off by stating, right off the bat; what he is going to talk about. By doing that he captures the audience’s attention instantly. He then gives it some historical perspective and proceeds to list what he going to talk about. He then restates those points with a little bit more explanation on what they mean. Then he proceeds to pick each point to delve into them in greater detail. He lists facts and examples.

In the end though he, rather abruptly, concludes his thoughts telling people to be concerned about some the things that he is concerned about. That took out some of the punch. I wish he could’ve spent some time on what individuals could do. I also felt his pitch at times, was at a constant high which could also reduce the effectiveness of the speech.

A wonderful example of a well prepared speech nevertheless. That’s my evaluation of his speech delivery style.


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