Once of the biggest (and usually last-minute) questions from clients who are planning ribbon cuttings, ground breaking events, ceremonial celebrations or formal events with dignitaries is “what do I say and how do I keep the audience’s attention?”
Bayview often writes speeches or talking points for clients, but sometimes our role is to help identify the speaker lineup and assign topics for each speaker.
Some things we consider in writing speeches for ceremonial events:
- Keep it brief! Limit your comments to three minutes (five minutes maximum). Your comments will likely be one of several, which add up quickly and take a toll on the listener’s attention span.
- Highlight the following points:
- Introduce yourself (with your title) and acknowledge any business partners, investors or owners
- Explain why the occasion is significant.
- Give some context. Tell a short anecdote or give 1-2 examples of how you’ve gotten to this point. Did you grow by 200% in the past two years? Have you added 5 employees? Brag a little.
- Be humble. Thank your clients, partners, staff, community partners, influencers, etc. who helped you get to this point.
- Direct people to the next step. Introduce the next speaker. If you’re the last speaker, invite attendees to mingle and enjoy refreshments.
- Write down your main points beforehand. It’s not necessary to write out ta speech to read verbatim, but do write down bullet points and keep them with you. Use larger font and more spacing between lines than normal to make it easy to read at a glance. Rehearse it to be sure your points flow together.
- Keep it to one glass of wine or beer before you speak. You'll want to celebrate, but there's plenty of time after your comments to toast!
Another big tip: hire a professional photographer. Use the photos they take to extend the reach of your event. Do you have a newsletter and/or use social media? Include a photo of the event. Belong to a chamber of commerce? Submit the photo as member news. Want to strengthen relationships? Email a photo or two to your key clients or contacts and thank them for attending.
There are many more considerations for events requiring a longer speech or presentation, but I hope these speaking tips will help you with your next short speech.