Basics of Public Speaking
~ A Step by Step Guide to Successful Presentations ~

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Lesson 19 - A Powerful "Trick": Using Themes in Public Speaking

I joined Toastmasters five years before writing these articles. I started at the beginning, standing nervously on the stage, wondering if I was really getting my message across to the audience. Slowly, through lots of practice of the presentation skills described in the previous 18 lessons, I was able to put everything together to be a pretty good public speaker. However, I found that I was not bad, but also not great. It seemed my speaking was not very powerful. Something seemed to missing, like a piece of a puzzle. I realized that having the basics was not enough. My speeches had clear organization, a strong opening and a memorable closing. I was much better at using body language and adding vocal variety when speaking. But I needed something else. As I listened to great speakers speak, I realized what I was missing. When speaking, I needed a theme.

If you want to be a great speaker, start by identifying one strong, theme that runs through your whole speech. Think of the ONE main point, the main idea of your presentation. What do you want people to "take away" from your speech? Next, bring up this idea (the theme) in each part of your speech, especially the opening, the closing, and transitions between each section of your speech. Start small early in your speech - just mention your main idea. As you move forward, make your statements stronger.

This is a very simple little "trick", but if you use it, you will get these results:

    - Listeners will start to anticipate your main point. In other words they will be thinking what you are thinking!

    - By the conclusion of your presentation, you can whisper your main point, or just lead up to your main point, and the audience will fill in the final words!

    - At this point, you will know that your message has been not only received but also remembered. That's real success!

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