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Looking for public speaking tips? The most important thing: Have a clear and concise key message.

Public Speaking Tips – What’s your point?

The key message is the heart of your speech, the one thing that if nothing else the audience will remember. With a clear and concise key message, you are able to communicate what really matters. Once you have your key message clear it makes it much easier to craft your speech around it

public speaking tips

When we are preparing a speech there are many questions we ask ourselves.

Who are the audience, how will the venue be laid out, what is the time limit? The most important question is what is the key message? What will the audience take away? It’s not about the audience remembering your speech, or you (although it’s nice if they do!) but if people go away and make a change however small you have delivered a powerful speech.

What makes a good key message?

A good key message is a cornerstone of which the speech structure is built so that each point that you make relates back to the key message. The key message is best introduced early on in your speech. You can do this in a number of ways. You can directly introduce your key message in the opening of your speech. Or you may choose to give the audience a hint and then provide your key (which is often the solution). As the structure is built around the central message it is important to return to the key message when closing. Your key message will be included in the opening and the closing of your speech.

Sticky note – Put your message on a sticky note and stick to it

Once you have your speech topic, set to work on defining the key message. The points below can help you do this.

Then write your key message on a sticky note. This works well as if it fits on a sticky note it is more likely to be concise and simple; I try to aim for 10-15 words.

Public speaking tips – Here’s how to determine your key message:

  1. Ask yourself – What is the one thing I want the audience to take away a result of my speech? Then write down the first thing that comes into your head. It doesn’t have to be a smart catchy power phrase, it’s best to avoid jargon or abstract. Just jot down a few words on a sticky note.
  2. Refine your message – craft your key message so that it is simple, clear and concise.
  3. Ensure your message can be easily seen and heard. Is it specific? You really want your audience to be able to see your message, relate to your message and apply it to themselves.
  4. Is the audience the focus of the message? Make sure the key message is about the audience. If you cannot be clear yourself about what’s in it for the audience, they won’t be either.
  5. Weave your key message into your speech structure. Ensure that the key is the central theme of the speech and the stories. Examples and information is purely there to ensure your audience gets the message.

I attended the World Championship of Public Speaking in August 2014 and watched Dananjaya Hettiarachchi win the title. In his semi-final speech “Deadly Samba,” Dananjaya had a simple but powerful message, “If you don’t burn for your dream, your dream will burn away”. Something every single person listening to that speech could take away. It was a fantastic speech with such a simple and memorable key message.

So as you are writing your next speech remember to determine your key message by asking yourself:

…What’s the Point?


About the author

Lisa Evans helps leaders and entrepreneurs to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.

Here’s how I may help you

Whether you have a hidden story of your feet, or you want to nail your next presentation, I can help you.

My services include:

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories. A minimum of three sessions is recommended 1:1 in person or virtually via Zoom.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Storytelling for Leaders Interactive Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories.

Keynote/Guest Speaking at your next conference or event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.