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Add Punch to your Speeches!

By J.A. Gamache

3rd place winner in the 2001
Toastmasters International
World Championship of Public Speaking

To add punch to their speeches, professional speakers put emphasis on "key words". Here are simple techniques to enhance the "key words" of your next presentation.

How to discover the "key words" in your speech
Once your speech is written, find one key word per idea; in other words, choose the words that you feel are the most important and then select the bold or underline function to place those key words in a prominent position in your text. You may have to underline a group of words, but not more than two or three! Then, read out loud the key words that you have picked. If the message still makes sense, then you made the right choices. If not...choose other key words.
This technique requires a little bit of practice. You may have to re-write certain parts of your speech. Why would you make the effort? Because your message will become crystal clear, that's why!
But wait! Now that your message is clear, do you want to know how to enhance those key words in your speech? Here are four fun and easy "punch techniques" you can use.


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Punch technique no 1: Vary the volume

Between YELLING and whispering, there is a whole range of effects that you can obtain, just by varying the volume. Whisper to tell secrets. Lower your voice to create intimacy. Speak loudly to show confidence or courage. Scream to express urgency, pain, etc...
Punch technique no 2: Play with your tone
We are talking here about using either a very low or a very loud voice. A very low voice comforts and gives confidence. A very high pitch is useful to underline laughter and surprise. Modifying your tone of voice while saying one of your key words can bring humour to it.
Punch technique no 3: Modify your rhythm
Have fun with the rhythm of your key words by saying them very slowly or very fast. When you separate every syllable of a word it becomes very im-por-tant! A slow rhythm can add meaning to a word.
Punch technique no 4: Make short pauses
Making a short pause before or after a word, enhances it. For example, make a short pause just before a "key verb", and your sentence will make more sense. Try it!
Write the text of your next speech. Choose the "key words". Read them out loud. And once your selection is made, have fun with the "punch techniques" mentioned earlier. You will be amazed how much punch you added to your speech!

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