10 Steps to a great Spotlight speech

November 2, 2016 by

I recently presented suggestions for how to give a 60 second or 1 minute self-introduction speech to some group - whether business people or some other.

giving-a-speech-shutterstock-6601I mentioned that there are at least three different types of introductory marketing speeches:
- a Spotlight / Focus / Center of Attention
- an Elevator pitch
- a Self-introduction/Icebreaker

This time I'll cover what I've seen referred to as the Center of Attention, Focus, or Spotlight Speech.  I'll refer to it here as the Spotlight.

This is a longer opportunity to introduce yourself and/or demonstrate your or your business's capabilities, products, or services.  The time ranges I've seen are from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the group and situation.  This amount of time provides you the flexibility to go into some detail about yourself and/or your business.

This type of speech may be given to a Toastmasters group, to a Chamber of Commerce or one of its Lead Groups, to a convention, or .... The possibilities are numerous.

There are so many variables involved in this type of speech that I can't cover all the specifics.  But I make suggestions and ask a few questions to help you think things through.

So how do you go about preparing for and giving this type of speech?

1 - Be clear on your purpose for giving the speech
You have some purpose for giving this speech - otherwise you wouldn't do it.  Right?
What is that purpose?
- To present yourself as a business person or as an expert in some field?
- To convince others that your product or service is the greatest thing since Al Gore invented the internet?
- To present an issue which you believe needs to be dealt with?
- To convince others to support some cause?
Whatever the purpose, this is the driver in your speech.

Aside from that purpose:

Your speech must make you stand out from the crowd - to be memorable in other's  minds.
You want them to remember you, your brand, your product or service well beyond this meeting.

Some of these steps below can be done in parallel.  Modify the sequence as it suits you.

You know who you are (at least in theory), so ...

2 - Find out who the others (your audience or competition) in the meeting will be
This is one of the most important factors in giving your speech.  Your audience determines your approach and the type of language to use in your speech.  Here are some questions to help you decide.
Who are they?
- Are they fellow business people you've met with before?
- Are they a group new to you whom you've never met with before?
- Is it a convention or major meeting where you have an opportunity to impress a large group who may not know anything about you or your company?
- Is it a speaking competition, possibly with other "Spotlighters"?
What are their backgrounds?
- Are they people with the same interests or businesses as you?
- Are they all the same type of engineer, marketer, or other trade or discipline?
- Are they a general audience with a variety of backgrounds, different businesses, and interests?
Is anyone else giving a Spotlight type of speech at the same meeting?
- Find out who the others are and what their specialties, backgrounds, or businesses are.
- Get the sequence of speeches, so you know where you are in the list.

If it's a technical group in the same or similar discipline, use the terminology appropriate for that.  If it's a general audience, use much simpler terms, maybe defining certain terms they may not be familiar with.

3 - Begin preparing for your speech
Speeches follow the same basic pattern:  An Introduction, the Body/middle, and the Conclusion.  The length of each section depends on the length of the speech.

Don't delay.  Begin as far in advance of your speech as possible.  This is not something you want to put off until you had to get it done yesterday.
You should allow time to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.  You don't want to find yourself saying afterward "I should have mentioned that" or "I should have checked that.  It wasn't true."

A long lead time may not always be an option.  Occasionally an opportunity (or obligation) may arise without much warning.  You may want to use what I have here to establish a "hip pocket" speech which you can quickly modify as needed for different groups.

What facilities and capabilities will be available?  These can make a big difference.
- Will you have a podium, or do you have to stand free?
- Will a microphone and speaker system be available for larger groups?
   - If so, will you have to hold a mike?  Will you be able to wear a mike?
- Familiarize yourself with any in-house equipment, layout, and setup.
- Will you be able to use computers and/or audio-visual equipment?
- Will a whiteboard or other materials be available to write on?
- Can you bring in samples or have power to operate or demonstrate equipment?

4 - Make an outline to help organize your thoughts
At this point, just write a heading for each of your Introduction, Body/middle, and Conclusion sections.
Brainstorm and fill in some basic ideas in each section, even though you may already know most everything you want to say.
- What do you want to tell your audience besides introducing yourself or your company?
- Is this strictly a marketing opportunity for you or for your company - or something else?
- Do you intend to pass along technical information?

5 - Begin thinking seriously about the Body/middle section content
Fill in the details you want or need to cover in this section.
Developing this section first should help prevent an initial writer's (or speaker's) block.  It should be the easiest part to do because you already know what you do or your company does.

If a computer or other visual aids will be available, think about using some photos or graphics to illustrate your points.  A simple picture or graphic can quickly illustrate what might take minutes to explain in words.

Explain what you or your company can do for the audience.  Give relevant examples of how you have helped others.

Provide some related information they might find generally useful in their lives.

Put the details in a logical, coherent sequence.

6 - Develop your Conclusion
What do you want to leave the audience with?  Give them a Call To Action.
- Ask them to contact you about using your products or services
- Present a special, limited time offer
- Tell them how they can help your cause
Offer again what you or your company can do for those in the audience.

7 - Develop your Introduction.
This can be the most important part of your speech, especially if presenting to a large audience.  You have to get their attention.
Begin by providing the basics - your name, your business name, your position/relationship with the business. and what you or your business do.
(This information may be available in a Program, but you can reinforce it by letting them put a face and memorable speech to the information.)
Explain how you came to be presenting:
- Were you asked?  By whom?
- Did you volunteer?
- Is this just your turn in a rotation among members of an organization?

You need to draw the audience in.  Now comes your first chance to really impress them.

You want them to pay attention to you.  You don't want talk about the previous speaker or other side conversations distracting them.  You don't want to be just another speaker they have to listen to and whom they will soon forget.

What you need is a "grabber".

A grabber is a strong statement intended to capture the audience's attention.

Try to make your grabber something unique about you, your company, or your work.
- How and/or why do you or your company stand out from your competition?
- If you have a great tagline or slogan, use it.
- Do you have the best equipment for manufacturing some item?
- Do you have the best equipment for servicing vehicles?
- Are you able to provide an interest rate on savings far greater than anyone else?
- Do you have an intriguing story about yourself or your company?

Or give them something else unique, but relevant to your speech and preferably true.
- "The world is going to end tomorrow" may be a grabber, but it's probably irrelevant to your meeting. They won't believe you and will tune you out.
- "The current housing bubble is going to burst next week" - maybe
- "I'm a Stage 4 cancer survivor" - yes, if appropriate
- "I just discovered a cheap new energy source" - certainly, if it's true

8 - Integrate the parts of your speech
If you have time, let your work sit for a day or more - it's better to look at something "cold" when you want to critique it.

If it's a sales pitch or promoting yourself or your company in some way, one philosophy I like is:
- tell them what you're going to tell them (Introduction)
- tell them (Body/middle)
- then tell them what you told them (Conclusion)
This provides the psychological effect of both primacy and recency, making them more likely to remember you.

But don't make this sequence too obvious.  Be more subtle.  Say it differently each time.

You want your speech to flow smoothly and naturally.
You don't want rapid shifts in direction or rapid changes in topics - unless that's part of your plan to shock them.  You risk losing your audience.

9 - Prepare to deliver your speech
There are many possibilities here, depending on what equipment and setup is available.
Some examples:
- if you have a lighted podium and the room will be darkened, print your notes in a larger font on 8.5x11 sheets of paper
- if you don't have a podium, put your notes on index cards and plan to hold them
- if you can use a computer at the podium, put your notes in something like a PowerPoint presentation.  Try not to make it obvious when you're paging or scrolling, though.  And don't stand there reading the slides.  They should only be notes to jog your memory.
- if you're showing graphics or photos to a group of any size, you'll need a computer interface somewhere and probably use a remote.


Practice.  Rehearse.  Practice.


Don't memorize your speech.

Both you and your audience want the spontaneity.

10 - It's time to deliver
Arrive early to make sure the equipment you need is present and things work as you expect.

Be confident that the effort you've put into the speech will result in a great presentation.

Take a deep breath and relax as you exhale before you begin speaking.

Have fun delivering!

I can help you with things like this.

Jim Stramler

1 Comment

  1. BobbuBrowne

    Hello! Cool post, amazing!!!

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