Andy Rooney of “60 Minutes” has built his reputation on his image as the guy next door. He asks the questions that bring people together about the things they hate about society. Have you ever heard him start a piece by saying, “Don’t you hate it when …” or “Doesn’t it bother you when …”? Imagine if you were able to command that much rapport with 100 people each time you speak.

When you ask your audience a question, pause for at least three seconds to allow them to think about it. You’ll accomplish this critical aspect of delivering a knock-dead speech.

The story method

The dean of motivational speaking is Zig Ziglar. Ziglar believes in the story method of communication which is lost on most speakers. I told a presenter once that he needed to tell more stories to keep the audience’s attention. He said that he would like to but there were too many things to cover in his speech. Wrong answer!

The story source

But where do you get really great stories? The answer is simple. Steal them. You have enough personal experience already to hold any audience in rapt attention. Audiences are far more attentive than your friends and colleagues who scowl at your stories. Your career is filled with stories about clients who succeed and fail, who are smart or less than stellar. Tell them.

The little details

Even better is to tell stories about the little-known history of famous people. Every sports page is filled with the failures and successes of people all of us follow. Paul Harvey didn’t make a career of telling the “rest of the facts,” he was made famous because he told “the rest of the story.” Usually he talks about little known trivia about famous people. But he speaks with the confidence of only the most dynamic of speakers.

One great way to appear dynamic is to be more comfortable in front of the group. You do this by practicing your presentation. But who’s got the time to do that? You do, without even knowing it. Put your speech outline on 3×5 note cards. Rehearse your presentation in your car during any drive time. Can’t you just see yourself at a busy intersection waiting for a red light while talking to yourself. The driver of the car next to you notices your elocution while quickly avoiding eye contact thinking that you’ve had one too many commutes. But it is the best way to get really prepared for that next meeting without losing business time.