Over the last decade, organisations and business both big and small have been steadily investing more and more in their digital user experience (digital UX).
Interestingly, the digital UX rules businesses are employing online can be applied to help you write great speeches, talks and presentations.
Digital UX is the experience users have when interacting with businesses or organisations in the digital world.
A company’s website, mobile site, app and social network platforms would all be examples of areas where users or customers will interact digitally with the business.
Why is this relevant to public speaking? Well, it turns out that the way an audience feels about a business speech or presentation is very similar to their feelings about an online interaction.
Factors behind successful interactions
Think about a recent online interaction you had that went well. It might have been a bank transaction, a holiday booking or a new device purchase. What made the interaction so successful?
Your answer is most likely to be that you were able quickly and simply to do what you needed to do:
- You weren’t led down any blind alleys
- You didn’t find any of the language difficult to follow
- Everything was clear, intuitive and linear
- You felt the organisation you were dealing with was trying to help you – not simply getting you to do what they wanted
Now think about a great speech you’ve heard… you probably enjoyed it for many of the same reasons.
So, what can we learn from the rules of digital UX when we’re writing a speech?
Most experts will say that when it comes to delivering a speech, there is nothing more important than the audience. I completely agree.
However, we all give speeches for our own reasons, which means that before we start giving all our attention to the experience of our audience, we need to be a little selfish and pinpoint exactly what it is that we want to achieve first.
An online business might focus all their attention on creating a world-class customer experience, but you can bet they’ll have worked out what the required outcome is for themselves first.
So, before you start writing, think about what you want the outcome of your speech to be.
- Do you want your audience to purchase a product or service off the back of your speech?
- Do you want them to buy into an idea or movement?
- Do you simply want to entertain them, maybe get some laughs and have them leave the room thinking what a fantastic speaker you are?
- Maybe you want them to be inspired into making a change in themselves after hearing your speech?
Whatever your desired outcome, be sure to know it, refine it and be laser-focussed on it – before you start writing.
Once you’ve done this, everything else you do should be done with the audience experience at heart. Let’s call it, AX; audience experience.
Now, think again about some of the best features of an online journey and understand how these can be adopted when writing a speech:
You weren’t led down any blind alleys
Now that you have a clear focus on what you want to achieve, you need to ensure that every word in your speech is geared toward that target.
When you’ve finished writing, go back through and identify any areas which feel like they go off on a tangent or don’t contribute to taking the audience exactly where you want them to go.
This doesn’t mean taking out humorous asides or anecdotes which you feel enhance your speech. But if there’s anything in there that could lead the audience down a blind alley and confuse them, remove it.
You didn’t find any of the language difficult to follow
When you’re writing a speech, it can be easy to start using elaborate language, long fancy words and complicated sentence structures. Imagine how intelligent it will make you look.
Unfortunately, your audience probably isn’t too interested in you making yourself look intelligent and they would far rather listen to a speech filled with simple language and short sentences.
This isn’t a case of ‘dumbing down’ your speech. It’s simply that the clearer the language we use, the more like an everyday conversation your speech will be. And, that’s what audiences find most engaging.
You audience wants to feel like you’re having a conversation with them, not reading a chapter from War and Peace.
Everything was clear, intuitive and linear
Of course, most audiences love to be surprised during a speech, but successfully pulling off a surprise or plot twist is difficult to do if your audience feels completely lost.
When writing your speech, or at least when editing it later, be sure always to put yourself in the position of an average audience member.
Think about how they’ll be feeling at every point of their journey. Are there any points at which they could become confused with what you’re saying?
If you take something out at the start of the speech, could that have a knock-on effect on something you still have in at the end of the speech?
Keep a tight focus on the clarity, comprehension and chronology of your speech.
You felt you were being helped
You’ve identified what you want to achieve from your speech but now you must place the entire focus on how you can best serve the audience, whilst remaining in pursuit of your desired outcome.
If you’re selling a product, service, idea or experience, the audience doesn’t want just to sit and listen to you telling them how great it is, how much you love it or how it has changed your life – they want to know what it can do for them.
Of course, you may want to relate a personal story or experience in a speech and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you must remember always to come back to how this will benefit your audience members.
Imagine if you went online to buy a holiday and the website said things like:
- “Book this holiday to help ensure we meet our annual business targets.”
- “Stay at this hotel, we had such a great time there last year at our company conference.”
- “When you reserve your next holiday with us, we’ll make sure you do exactly what we recommend and take all elements of choice out of your experience.”
Your audience wants to know you have thought about them. They want to know you care about their experience and they don’t want to feel intimidated or forced into adopting your viewpoint.
So, always put the AX at the heart of your speech – and leave your audience raving about the experience.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Dan Magill. Dan is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. With more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland, find your nearest club at www.toastmasters.org
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