Working with clients – a speech

Once upon a time…

…there was the joy of celebration – mingled with the dread of expectation.

Your brother shares the great news that he’s getting married. And even better; would like you to be his best man. What an honour.

Then it hits you: you’ll need to give a speech.

You don’t *do* public speaking. You immediately start to tighten up; cold sweat on your forehead and the palms of your hands. In your mind, you can already see it going horribly wrong.

And that’s not all. You love your brother and want to do a great job. And you don’t want to let him – or the rest of your family – down.

TheFear takes hold.

You are not alone

Let me introduce you to Alan Campbell. Alan was in exactly the position I’ve just described. Two months later, Alan gave the speech of his life at his brother’s wedding – and the family and friends gathered for the occasion loved it.

Alan Campbell delivering his speech

Here’s how Alan did it:

Starting your speech

We’d exchanged emails over a few days and after an initial chat over the phone, arranged to have a first session. There we spoke about his brother and future sister-in-law. We talked about the kind of speech he wanted to give – and why. And we looked at ways to structure it while considering some ideas for how to make it a speech that would be memorable for the right reasons.

The ebb and flow of the middle

Alan then started thinking about what he wanted to say, and how he might say it. He wrote a first draft, which we tweaked a few times over email until Alan was happy with the content, the humour and the length.

We then started to think about how it would be delivered. We had another session focussed on delivery, giving practical ways that Alan could use to be confident on the day, and make the most of the words and ideas he’d had and we’d developed together.

There was some moments of uncertainty in there, as well as making sure the speech would be Alan’s and not him pretending to be someone else. That striving for authenticity was not difficult – just important to do as we kept a clear focus on the outcomes Alan wanted to achieve.

Finish well

Then it was over to Alan to rehearse. And rehearse. And rehearse. We kept in touch over this time, until it was finally to deliver the speech.

And he smashed it.

Family feedback was great, Alan was both delighted and relieved that it went as much to plan as it could. And crucially, he did his brother and now-sister-in-law proud.

Your turn next?

It was a real privilege to work with Alan and help him overcome his fears with simple, practical tools and a well-worked speech.

I’d be delighted to help you prepare for an important event – or build your skills for communication at work or with potential clients.

Get in touch and let me know how I can help.

Walking Over the Water

That’s the title of a song sung by Mat Kearney on the album Mercyland: Hymns For the Rest of Us (Spotify).

The other day I was driving to church with the kids and this song came on. The weeWeir, having never heard it before, asked what it was about. I was pleased she asked as I’ve always wanted her to think about the words she hears and what they might mean.

Easy to say?

However, explaining this song to my daughter was never going to be easy. But I did – through the tears.  You see, every time I really listen to this song, I am struck by the stages of the story. Often it will stop be in my tracks and I’m forced to think about the characters being sung about. The way their story is told. The questions asked and truths that are wrestled with.

It’s hardly an original thought to suggest that music is a powerful medium for communicating ideas. And when you tell stories set to music you can get an even deeper connection with the audience (sometimes stories told *through* music don’t always need words too).

Of course they do

And stories do that. Stories feed the imagination and help the audience see themselves part of it – good stories help people see how they can be the hero of their own story.

So how does that work when there’s difficult things to be talked about?

That there is a real question. Some songwriters are masters at challenging their listeners with gentleness and grace. Others are a little more blunt.

We will all have songs – or music – that tell us a story we love. But do we have songs that challenge us to stay sharp, to consider our motives – to hold things rightly.

What’s yours? What do you learn from them?

Sing (or say it) like you mean it

It’s really powerful when you guide your audience through your talk (or communication) and help them see why your idea is worth listening to.  I believe everyone who speaks (or sings) to an audience needs to be there to serve them first. From that posture of helping them you build a stronger connection and create the possibility of inspiring them to action.

Will I sing when delivering my next talk? Only if it will create the right impact on the audience… come along and find out.

Even if I don’t sing, I have to believe what I’m saying – as mentioned last week, it’s got to be about authenticity. What can you do to make your next talk the the more authentic?

Here’s the song:

PS – for a bit more of the story behind the song (written with Phil Madiera, who produced the album), I recommend this blog by Phil.

Letting them know

A few months ago, I started on a wee journey (in case you hadn’t noticed); maybe I’d call it an experiment if I want to avoid the post-modern cliché.

What’s been happening? 

I’ve been talking more about helping people communicate their ideas in effective ways. About my desire to work with people help develop so they can create and deliver presentations that inspire and move people.

  • I will help people take their big ideas and bring them to life for others
  • I will help people use storytelling, humour and authenticity to get their ideas into their audiences heads so they take action
  • I will help people overcome that most-commons of fears; public speaking.

Remember why you’re doing it


Today I was reminded how much this stuff makes me come more alive. A friend was taking some pictures while I told people a few things about story and why it’s so brilliant for communicating ideas. He remarked that I came alive!

And so I’m reminded that we need to be alive to live. I realise again how much it means to me to see people given the tools to communicate great things well.

Tell people!

I’ve asked before for people’s help in spreading the word. And so I’m at it again. Only because I really believe the world needs people who can communicate well. I need to be better at this communication lark too, no doubt.

In less than a week I’ll be giving someone the chance to be at my next workshop for free. I’ve not run a competition before so if it’s your first time entering then that’s cool too!

Here’s the action:

Would you share this link with people you’re connected with? If you enter, you’ll get a unique url you can share. Each time you share it will boost the number of entries you get. Simple! 

You can be there too if you like – either book your own ticket or enter the competition.
Thanks for reading. And for sharing.