A black and white image of an excited man speaking to an enormous crowd with a text overlay of "2023"

6 Simple Strategies for Delivering a Speech to a Large Crowd in 2023

Jump Ahead

By Loretta Love Huff, for Edwardsturm.com.

Have you ever sat through a boring speech? Are you at risk yourself for delivering one? Though speaking on stage is challenging enough without the added pressure of wowing your audience, in order to be an effective and memorable speaker, being captivating in some way is critical.

Maya Angelou is often quoted as saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” As a speaker, you can ‘wow’ your audience with content if you’re a genius in some area, but if you create an experience that leaves your audience impressed or spellbound, you’re more likely to leave an indelible impression.

Merriam-Webster.com defines ‘creative’ as having or showing an ability to make new things or think of new ideas. Most speakers want to empower people to embrace new ideas or behaviors that make the world a better place. As a speaker, your ability to move people into adopting new mindsets and taking new actions is critical in fulfilling your personal mission, causing change in the world and having a successful speaking career.

By employing the methods below, you’ll stand out from the herd of other messengers and carve out a permanent home in the memory banks of your audiences.

Let’s start.

Incorporate Memorable Characters

The speaker in this talk uses well known success stories to quickly illustrate each of his examples

One of my favorite speakers captivates her audience with creative portrayals of characters from her small, southern home town. She does great impressions of real life people from the town, poking loving fun at their quirky natures, while teaching lessons of tolerance, courage, and acceptance.

You don’t have to create characters (although you could to make a point), but you must offer your audience stories that they can relate to and learn from. Another speaker I know is that memorable character. He’s an entertaining personality who challenges people to get over themselves and step up to live more productive lives.

Have a Signature Story

Even if you’re not a super memorable a personality or have a ton of edginess, you can still captivate large audiences by sharing your unique personal story, your dreams, your fears, your struggles, and your growth so that audiences feel your authenticity, connect with your humanity, empathize with your pain, and celebrate your triumphs. Whatever it is, use your unique story to make your speech feel like a creative work of art and drive home your points in a compelling way.

A very profound, yet positive, speech, in which the speaker uses her unique story to make her audience understand how we often take life and opportunity for granted

Tie in Current Events or Trending Topics

Early in my corporate career I was asked to give my first keynote address at my alma mater, Howard University in Washington DC.

I was initially petrified at the prospect of speaking at the graduation awards gala for one of the very large student organizations with whom we had partnered to hire students, but had faith that I’d make it work. I worked with a speech writer to a develop a really solid talk and then spiced up the talk by incorporating a trending song (We are the World) that everybody was familiar with.

At the end of what felt like an already very successful speech, I recited lyrics from the song and closed the talk to a standing ovation.

Get Your Audience Engaged

A huge pile of Lego bricks

I attended three events recently that transformed what could have been just theoretical lectures into crowd-engaging learning experiences.

The first was a moderate sized workshop on the value of collaboration. Rather than only a discussion on the topic, the presenters put the audience in small groups and used Legos as a vehicle to stimulate collaborative problem solving conversations.

The second event was conducted by a friend who speaks about the power of presence. After describing how to have productive and informative networking experiences, she had each attendee take out their cell phones, partner with someone, then create a 1-minute video delivering a newly developed elevator pitch. This exercise not only had the attendees put into practice what they had learned, but left us all with a product (the video) that we could share on social media.

In the third event, the speaker used mobile technology to conduct polls with the audience. This gave everybody the ability to easily participate and allowed the speaker to cater her talk based on her audience’s current, in-the-moment understanding of her topic. Using an app like Poll Everywhere in this way, is ideal for a large audience.

Appear on Podcasts

Going on podcasts is one of the best speaking exercises. It trains your storytelling abilities and gets you comfortable with the idea of being the star. You develop confidence that carries over into your live speeches, while also building your reputation so the audience is warm.

Oftentimes, what you do off-stage can be just as important as what you do on-stage.

You may be saying though, “I’m not famous, how am I supposed to go on podcasts?”

Trust me, it’s a cinch. There are literally podcast networks that algorithmically match you with relevant hosts. You’re connected with multiple podcast hosts on a daily basis who you may be a fit for.

Or, if you have an interesting story, some hosts will come to you! PodMatch is one of the most popular platforms like this.

Then, as you go on podcasts, you get a body of work that you can leverage. You can leverage your media appearances both on social media and to get on even more popular shows.

Use Relevant Props

A metal ladder against a blue backdropOne speaker I know uses a ladder to remind audiences of the value of gaining new perspectives. That ladder becomes a symbol that reminds attendees to take their blinders off, step into the world of their customers, and observe situations from a different point of view. People LOVE the ladder and what it stands for and are left with a visual that encourages them to think and behave in new ways.

You might also provide simple take-away tchotchkes to remind audience members of key points, characters, or of your brand. Small take-away items can give your presentation ‘legs’ that last well beyond your talk and further reason to invite you back for a return engagement.

Being creative in your delivery does not require you to be an expert in innovation. Use these five very simple strategies to enhance your audiences’ encounters, create more memorable experiences, and drive more revenue to your brand.

Got any questions or anything you’d like to see added? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to join in in a discussion.

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