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Put this question right in the crosshairs

dreamstime_s_22959564After the applause finally ended, and our amazing breakfast speaker left the stage, my colleague gave me that deer in the headlights look.

“Wow – that was incredible!” he said. “Usually these speakers just stand up and spew a bunch of facts at us. But this guy really had something to say!”

That we’re reduced to utter shock when a speaker is delightful instead of dreadful says plenty about the state of public speaking at many business events these days.

We tend to expect mediocrity. And we’re shocked on the rare occasion when we get something better.

Those speakers who “just stand up and spew a bunch of facts” likely get off track because they failed to ask and answer one simple question.

“What does this speech have to do?”

After all, every speech has a job, a reason for being. That was good advice from Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter Peggy Noonan in 1998, and it remains good advice nearly two decades later.

So if you’re working on a speech right now, do you know its job? Its reason for being?

What does your speech have to do?