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Seven Tips to Ignite Audiences with Powerful Ideas

Twenty slides. Five minutes. Can you start a revolution?

One of the exciting additions to Demand Success 2014 this June 5 and 6 is Ignite. The session will feature 10 speakers who get five minutes each to share a revolutionary business idea. No pitches, just thought leadership.

Ignite Audiences with Powerful IdeasAre you up for the challenge? The application process has already begun and will continue through February 13. Ten selected speakers will receive complimentary registration to Demand Success. Apply here!

Ignite speakers won’t have much time, but remember it took Abraham Lincoln just over two minutes to deliver the Gettysburg Address.

Here are seven tips for delivering a succinct, powerful speech that ignites a movement:

1. Don’t write it

The old adage that every minute of a speech requires an hour of research holds true, but short speeches shouldn’t have a script.

Reciting or reading a speech word-for-word can come off wooden. Instead of memorizing your presentation, create an outline.

2. Practice, practice, practice and practice more

Some of the world’s greatest minds and seasoned speakers give TED Talks. They knock the audience’s socks off because they have revolutionary ideas and experience, but also because they rehearse relentlessly.

TED requires speakers to provide an outline or script two months in advance. From there, TED helps speakers hone ideas and incorporate anecdotes. Then they schedule a run through on Skype, after which they critique the performance. Then, they encourage the speakers to keep practicing in front of mirrors and non-experts. By the time TED comes, they’ve perfected every syllable of the speech.

3. Simple and clear

Short presentations aren’t the right platforms for delivering complex ideas. If you try, it will leave the audience scratching their heads.

Present your idea clearly. Repetition helps. Don’t let your main message get lost in data. Repeat the central theme two or three times to drive it home to the audience.

Clarity also involves everything from the font’s size on slides to the descriptors surrounding images.

4. Work the crowd

Think of it as a pregame warm-up. Whether you have a day or only a few hours before your presentation, speak with the individuals who will attend your presentation. In addition to providing valuable last-minute intel about what to present, seeing familiar faces will relax you while on stage.

5. Speak slowly

The challenge of five minutes isn’t to cram as much into the speech as possible. Speaking slowly will help your audience absorb your message. Also, studies show that people perceive fast talkers as less truthful than people with a slower cadence.

6. Use language tricks

Gettysburg Address - Ignite

Lincoln’s address has half the words of this post.

Message is the takeaway, but language keeps audiences engaged. Use tricolons, which are three-part lists. For example, Lincoln closed the Gettysburg Address with “and that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.

Other common tricks include moving a sentence’s main verb to the beginning of the sentence, occasional alliteration and metaphors.

7. End strong

Like Lincoln did in the example above, end speeches with a strong, memorable line. The line should include the idea you want people to remember.

Bonus: Great speeches follow a pattern

What do Lincoln, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr. and other great orators have in common? They gave stirring speeches that followed a unique pattern that TED speaker Nancy Duarte recently discovered.

Great speeches start by establishing the current state of affairs related to the topic of the speech. The next step is to compare the current state to what could be. The middle of the presentation follows that “what is and what could be” pattern. Finally, the speaker leaves the audience with a call-to-action and a grand description of the new world created by adoption of the main idea.

For more information about this structure, watch Duarte’s TED Talk below:

Do you demand success? Register for the conference by January 31st to save $200!

Image: JimmyMac210, Scott Bush (Creative Commons)

About Brian Conlin

Brian Conlin is a content marketing manager for Cision. A former journalist, he enjoys researching and developing accessible content. When not writing, you will find him watching baseball and college basketball, sampling craft beer and enjoying Baltimore. Find him on Twitter @BrianConlin13.

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