If You Can Dance, You Can Deliver: Speaking Beyond the Steps

When you are first learning to do anything, for example a dance, there are usually several basic foundational items the dance requires. However, you may soon find it necessary to learn additional steps, create specific timing, or introduce a different tempo. The dance could also require unique spacing, drawn-out pauses, a special occasion, or even a partner!

Speaking is, in many ways, a lot like dancing! You must first prepare by learning the underlying foundations of a speech. But once you understand the speech’s basic constructs, you must then learn how to deliver, or dare I even say “perform” your speech. Through time and practice, you may choose to incorporate specific timing, pauses and movements between words or sentences. Just like with a dance performance, the audience recognizes the work you put in and appreciates it! Like dancing, speaking is not just learning steps or routines from a book or online video. It’s more about your time, personal additions, and interpretations!

Every now and then, I come across a “5 Steps To Good Speaking” article that gives tips and provides a mini-checklist for people anxious about speaking. Most of the time, these lists are pretty good for providing a basic structure or backbone of a speech. Heck, I have even written a few of my own. They help with organization of information and prevent us from wasting our audience’s time. However, it is important to remember that these tips are just foundational- it’s what you add through personal knowledge and experience that sets great speeches apart from the rest.

How a speaker implements tips and steps varies, and that’s a good thing! I enjoy hearing the same speech presented several different ways. For example, two of my speaking students from last semester got the assignment for a persuasive speech and wanted to promote healthy eating. They both felt passionately that healthy eating was the best way to improve and extend your life. While one student persuaded the audience to eat less meat, the other student took a different approach and encouraged us to cut out simple sugars. Although both students spoke on the same topic, their personal information and delivery made both speeches unique.

You see, there will always be important foundational steps you must take in order to make your speech successful and impactful. You must include a solid introduction and conclusion and a call to action. In addition, you should know your audience, and understand your reason for speaking to them. Your delivery should be confident, practiced, and fall well within provided time constraints. These “steps” are the absolute, bone-bare guidelines to follow when preparing for a speech. But the different, personal approaches that people take to these guidelines are what set their speeches apart and lead to the completion of your ultimate goal: a successful speech that influences audiences and calls them to action. HOW you get there must be your own unique way, much like how you dance!

Have you been trying to cram your speech into a one-size-fits-all guide? STOP. Let me help you at BethMund.com