Public speaking can be required in a job even though you might not expect it.
I've learned techniques that get laughter, tears, and even compliments after a speech.
The other night I had to speak in front of hundreds of people.
Since I coach hurdles for the high school track team, I had to speak about all my athletes in front of all the parents and other coaches. I especially had to address the senior hurdlers.
These two senior girls were especially good athletes and great people. I knew I had to give a great speech as a thank you for their dedication.
Before the banquet, I typed out my speech for each girl, focusing on emotional impact. I knew that an emotional connection, like laughter or tears, is the best way to be remembered. And I wanted everyone to remember how great these girls were.
Start With Personal Humor
I started with personal, funny stories about each of the girls. Both had impacted my life in a personal way, so this was easy for me.
By starting with humor, I was able to slowly transition into more serious thoughts on who they are and what they had accomplished. Also, when the audience laughs, it makes it a lot easier to speak in an engaging way.
Each story was crafted to leave the audience anticipating laughter. Here is how I began the first joke "She has been like a mother to the team, always caring for them. But when she was invited to babysit for my family, the results were very different."
Of course I elaborated a bit more, but using good intonation and body language, the audience was ready to laugh, and they did.
After the humor, I turned to serious contemplation of their accomplishments. I knew that they did not quite achieve their goals of going to the state meet, so I focused on how great their hard work and attitude were, and how they influenced the rest of the team.
I was able to draw out some tears when I mentioned how one of the younger hurdlers mentioned "I want to be just like her" as one of the seniors was doing a drill. Any clear image of inspiration is very emotional.
Wrap it Up
Finally, I capped it off with how great their times and places in the meets were, then a bit of humor, and a final emotional comment about how much they will be missed.
After the speech, parents and coaches complimented my speech, saying that the girls deserved every word I said. The next coach commented that I should have gone after him, because how could he follow that?
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