THE RIGHT PHRASE FOR EVERY SITUATION . . . EVERY TIME
Any successful leader will tell you: Giving a strong presentation is the most immediate and powerful way to set goals, form strategies, and sell your vision-to both internal and external audiences. Perfect Phrases for Executive Presentations not only tells you how to plan and deliver your address, but also provides phrases for every part of the speech or presentation. Organized by speech type and audience, you'll be walked through the beginning, middle, and end of a speech, giving you effective phrases to use. This invaluable book includes
- A detailed review of building an effective presentation for a wide variety of meetings and conferences
- Instructions and phrases for writing effective speeches for nearly 30 different groups and interests, from shareholders to commencements
- Techniques you can use to become a more effective speaker
About the Author
Alan M. Perlman, Ph.D. is a corporate speechwriter for leading Fortune 500 companies, as well as an academically trained linguist. He contributes frequently to Speechwriter's Newsletter.
Read an Excerpt
Perfect Phrases for Executive Presentations
Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases to Use to Communicate Your Strategy and Vision When the Stakes Are High
By Alan M. Perlman
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2006The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Quickly Establish a Link, a Relationship with Your Audience
Thank the person who introduced you. Display a positive attitude, energy, an eagerness to communicate—all of which makes the audience want to hear you. (Don't overdo it. The only reason I bring up the subject of enthusiasm is that too many speakers lack the initial animation that arouses listeners and makes them want to pay attention.) Express enthusiasm for your topic. Sincerely tell your listeners why you're glad to be there—unless it's a serious event. (Most of the ones in this book aren't.) Find more than one reason if you can. Your last one could be the topic of your speech or lead into it:
* "I'm delighted to have this opportunity to share some thoughts on a subject I'm passionate about: [topic]."
* "Good morning/afternoon/evening, everyone. It's good to see you all, and I'm delighted that [person who invited you] asked me to come and talk to you today/tonight."
* "Many speakers like to start off by saying what a pleasure it is to be where they happen to be. But in this case, it's not just 'a' pleasure, but two—a doubleheader, if you will [or "tripleheader," if you have three reasons to be glad to be there.]"
* "Good morning/afternoon/evening, and thank you all for coming. To all of you—old friends and new faces alike—let me say how delighted ... and honored ... I am to be here with you today." [Explain why.]
* "Good morning/afternoon/evening and welcome, everyone. I'm delighted to see that so many of you could be with us today/tonight."
* "I know how much you all have on your plates. We wouldn't ask you to take time from your busy schedules unless the matter were truly important. And it is."
* [To open a conference:] "Good morning/afternoon/evening, and thank you for asking me to be a part of this important event."
* "Thank you and good evening. I'm truly honored by the invitation to address this distinguished audience. And I've been looking forward to this occasion for many weeks. In fact, when we started kicking around ideas for this speech, one of my colleagues remarked that 'asking [your name] to talk about [your subject] is like asking the Pope to talk about God.'"
* "Thanks, [person who introduced you], and good morning/afternoon/evening, everyone. This is a great turnout. Let me tell you first off what a pleasure it is to get together with such a large group of fellow members of the [name of company/organization] family."
Bond with the listeners by working from what you and they have in common. It probably has to do with why you're there. At least mention or refer to it in some positive and complimentary way. You can even build your speech around that commonality, if it's appropriate.
Within that shared context, what is your relationship to your listeners? Older mentor? Peer? Professional expert? Industry/organizational/workshop leader? Fellow graduate from an institution? Supporter of a cause?
Be conscious of how you relate to your listeners (see if you can verbalize it to yourself), because that relationship influences what you choose to talk about—to the extent that you have a choice—and how you talk about it. As you think about wording and delivery, strive for as much true equality as possible, without downplaying the power differences between you and the audience. (For advice on selecting topics, see my book, Writing Great Speeches: Professional Techniques You Can Use [Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1997], Chapter 1. For advice on clarity and style, see Chapters 7 and 8 respectively.)
Much of what I'll tell you about how to compose your speech will already include audience sensitivity.
When you use clear, simple language (as in the Perfect Phrases) and present a speech that has a discernable structure and purpose, you show the members of the audience that you care about them and that you'll make it as easy and enjoyable as possible for them to hear what you have to say.
Similarly, a gracious opening, a strong closing, a show of enthusiasm for an organization's mission, a willingness to share credit, a focus on "audience value"—these and other examples and techniques that I'll show you are all implicit signs that you care about whether your listeners understand you ... and about whether you connect with them.
Note: If your topic is controversial, try to identify the common ground.
* "Reasonable people can agree on goals but still have honest disagreements on how to reach them. It's not a conflict between good and evil. Let's just acknowledge that we are all in favor of [mutual goal]."CHAPTER 2
Speak to and with the Audience: Make Your Speech Interactive
Even though a speech is essentially a monologue, it is also a live communication and thus bears some resemblance to a conversation. Successful speeches simulate this conversational element and include the audience through the skillful use of interactive language. Here are some ways to do this.
Rhetorical questions. These are questions to which there is no answer or to which the answer is obvious. For example, you might state a questionable or outlandish idea, then say something like "Do you think anyone would believe that?"
Question and answer. This is a variation on the rhetorical question. Ask the question as if you expect the audience to answer it and then give the answer yourself.
* "To give customers what they want, we have to understand what it is. So what do we mean by 'value' [or other concept]?" [Follow with explanation.]
* "Is this unrealistic? I don't think so."
* "Why are we having this conference/meeting? And what do we hope to accomplish?" [Follow with explanation.]
* "But how do people make their vision a reality? How do we achieve all those lofty goals we set for ourselves?" [Follow with explanation.]
* "How does it do that? Well, ...." [Explain.]
* "With all of these challenges, can we be even more successful in the future? Absolutely!"
* "What's going to happen now? Well, ...."
Respond to what you take to be the audience's silent reaction.
* "Yes, I know what you're thinking—it's risky to do something radically different."
* "Maybe you're a bit skeptical about all of this. You're wondering ...." [Be specific about the skepticism, then give reasons why they shouldn't be skeptical.]
* "Well, I hope my facts and figures have startled you a little, because unless we do something about them...." [Discuss negative consequences.]
* "Hopefully, you're no longer thinking, '[audience's original perspective],' ... but rather '[perspective to which you hope to convert them].'"
* [After announcing a vision, goal, or desired outcome:] "Sounds great, doesn't it?"
* "I hope I've left each of you asking yourselves one question: '[hypothetical question, e.g., "Am I challenging myself enough to____?"].' I really don't know; each of you has to answer it for yourself."
Use conversational tags. These can be attached to any sentence you want to emphasize.
* "I would expect more, wouldn't you?"
Call for a physical response from the audience (voice vote, show of hands, etc.).
Call for a silent response:
* "Do you want to be engaged in [name of project or venture]? I ho
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Table of Contents
Part One. What Makes a Great Speech?
1. Quickly Establish a Link, a Relationship with Your Audience
2. Speak to and with the Audience: Make Your Speech Interactive
3. Begin Right Away and Make Your Purpose Clear at the Outset
4. Give Your Speech a Simple and Easily Perceivable Organization
5. Practice Authenticity
6. Be Clear About the "Audience Value" You're Presenting
7. Create a Strong and Memorable Ending
8. If There Will Be a Q&A Session After Your Speech
Part Two. Speeches at Internal Meetings and Conferences
9. General Employee or Management Briefings
10. Gatherings of a Particular Management Level or Functional Specialty
11. Announcing New Strategy, Vision, or Direction (Including
Reorganizations and Mergers/Acquisitions)
12. Urging Support of a Political Action Committee
13. Visit to a Manufacturing Plant
Part Three. Speeches to External Organizations
14. Some Possibilities for the Opening
15. Service or Civic Organization
16. Business Forum/Local Economic Club
17. Professional/Intellectual Forums
18. Commencement Speeches
19. College or University as an Alumnus or Alumna
20. Other Speeches at Academic Institutions
21. International Technical/Technological Symposia
22. Conference of Fellow Professionals/Executives
23. Business School Lecture
24. Speeches to Charitable/Arts Foundations
25. Trade, Professional, or Industry Association
26. Financial Presentations to Board of Directors or Outside Analysts
27. Suppliers, Retailers, Clients, Brokers, or Other Business Partners
Part Four. Specific Speech Situations
28. Keynote Speeches (Internal or External)
29. Panel Remarks
30. IPO Announcements
31. Emceeing a Conference ("Continuity")
32. The Annual Meeting/Shareholder Speech
33. Speaking to Managers or Other Executives (Internal or External) About
Quality or Productivity
34. Introducing a New Product or Technology
35. Speaking About Innovation
Part Five. Ceremonial Speeches (Internal and External
36. Introducing Others
37. Welcoming Remarks
38. Tributes and Memorials
39. Awards Presentations
40. Remarks for Accepting an Award
41. Milestones and Other Dedications
42. Christmas/Holiday Gatherings
Part Six. Phrases and Language Strategies for Specific Audiences
43. Audiences Who Do Not Speak English as a First Language
45. Male Addressing Primarily Female Audience: Gender Sensitivity
Part Seven. Becoming a More Effective Executive Speaker
46. How to Make Your Speech Sound Conversational and Personal
47. The Most Persuasive Words in the Language
48. How (Not) to Use PowerPoint
49. Improving Your Delivery