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Balance is one of the six qualities of an Inspiring Speaker that Ginger founder, Sarah Lloyd-Hughes, writes about in her book "How to be Brilliant at Public Speaking". But how does balance help you to structure a speech? And how do you write a speech structure which keeps the audience hooked from start to finish?
Without a strong and balanced structure, your speech will be like a gingerbread house with no icing to hold it together: just a collection of pieces that nobody can make sense of. Let's investigate...
We can all write something down on paper that might be spoken out as a speech, can't we? It just might not be very good... But if you're trying to be influential, or even inspiring with your speaking it's getting the speech structure right that's the tricky part.
One of the biggest speech writing mistakes speakers make is trying to pack in too much information into their structure. Like a gingerbread house that's designed to be part castle, part luxury hotel, part mountain refuge, we will become confused about what your speech is built for.
Other speakers stay focused on one tiny area of their speech structure for too long and then rush the rest of the speech, like making a really beautiful door for your gingerbread house, but having nothing to attach it to.
To develop a powerful speech structure, think about the following four things -
Think of a familiar or archetypical plot or storyline that you can structure your speech around. This will help your speech to be more memorable to your audience. Here are four of the most common speech narratives:
A story personal to the speaker with a similar structure to many movies. We meet the character and see their circumstances. Then a tragedy occurs. And finally tell how your character overcomes and triumphs over the tragedy. This speech structure creates a journey that will emotionally engage your audience and build credibility.
This structure is all about using different layers of information that garners the audience's attention by supporting your key message. When you (and your audience) finish building the structure together you can look at the power of the structure you've created.
Structure your speech around asking a question or presenting a problem to the audience that they are desperate to know. Keep them on the edge of their seats by their desire to hear your crucial message.
Another fun way to structure a speech is to present both sides of the argument in such a way that the audience wants to find out "Who wins?".
We’ve all sat through speeches which start well but fizzle out over time. Or ones that fail to get going until halfway through, by which time everyone has nodded off.
At the other end of the scale, you’ve probably experienced speeches which flow well from start to finish, that keep you hooked with engaging content and a mix of light and shade.
A well-balanced structure can be the difference between a good speech and a great speech. It can help support a speaker who lacks confidence or power of delivery. And it can transform all manner of speaking scenarios, from meetings to keynote talks.
We see this in action working with executives and senior leaders across all industries.
Like the sales director who used data and detailed models throughout his pitch, bamboozling his audience with complex information from the get-go. When he worked with Ginger, we helped him change his approach to structure his pitch around a compelling story, backed up by a few topline facts. He immediately won a huge piece of business for his company by changing the structure of his talk.
Or the female leader stepping into the spotlight in a male-dominated industry, who used her talk about real estate to ‘walk’ the audience through the floors of a building. She literally built her talk around a real-life structure, giving it substance, impact and clarity in a way that was relatable and engaging. And it opened the audience’s eyes to a different way of thinking.
OK, so there are loads of different ways to structure a speech. How do you choose the right one for your talk?
Before you think about what you want to tell your audience, consider:
If you get clear on these, it's easier to see what kind of structure would work best for your speech. And you could try out a couple of different approaches to see which one has the most impact.
Any time invested in working on the structure of a speech will help you to be more powerful and engaging as a speaker. So, good luck in building a well-structured gingerbread house for your audience to gratefully nibble on!
Here are some courses that are relevant to you:
Presentation Skills and Training
Talk Writing and Training
Or you can view all of our Courses.
This showcase of inspiring female speakers is part of Ginger's work with game changing leaders.Discover More