The achievements of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are legendary. A fearless general, the father of our country, against all odds, led his troops to victory over the British. Unpopular at the time, Lincoln is now considered among the greatest - if not the greatest - President of all time for ending slavery and forever uniting our land.
Between Memorial Day, Flay Day and July 4th, summer is the time to pay tribute to their leadership, determination, and accomplishments, but let's also recognize another gift they demonstrated - their ability to effectively communicate.
While today's workplace "speech," looks a little different with presentation software, computers, and sophisticated audiovisual equipment, speech fundamentals remain the same. Here are four of their techniques that still work today.
1. Keep it short. No one ever complains that a speech is too short, but there's plenty of grumbling when it's too long. At 278 words, Lincoln's Gettysburg address lasted only two minutes, yet it's considered one of the most memorable, effective speeches ever delivered. At just 135 words and six sentences long, Washington's second inaugural address is the shortest in history, but it's sufficient time to accept the honor, reconfirm his commitment, and get back to business.
The bottom line: Avoid information overload. At most, your audience can retain three or four important points about your topic. Use up any extra time with a Question and Answer session where you can continue to reinforce your main ideas.
2. Know your topic, not just your slides. Our Presidents knew their topic well because they were personally involved in the events that were occurring. You, however, may need to present information that you're not as familiar with. Don't let it show. Study your topic. Learn everything you can. Ask others. If you only memorize your slides, you'll panic when someone throws you a curve ball question. Knowing your content gives you authority, credibility, and confidence.
3. Use language your audience will understand. Blame it on the internet and short attention spans, but it's more important than ever to use simple language with short sentences and phrases. Don't try to impress with over-complicated language or technical terminology. You'll alienate your audience.
4. Prepare. While Washington and Lincoln prepared with paper and pen, we have more tools at our disposal with PowerPoint slides, microphones, laser pointers, and various pieces of equipment. A great aid for creating and delivering your message, these tools can also trip you up during the presentation if you're uncomfortable with them. When a speaker fumbles with their equipment or it fails completely, everyone in the room feels the awkwardness. Avoid this with a day-before rehearsal to test everything out, create a back-up plan, and fine tune your talking points.
For more information on how to create a greater impact at your next presentation or wedding, talk to Twist OP.
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