Over the 15+ years of my speaking career, I put together an easy 5-part formula for crafting an effective inspirational speech – or any kind of speech, really – that will help your message be engaging and effective.
This is not the ONLY way to write an effective and inspiring speech, but it’s a way that seems to always work, and I use it every time I’m going to present content.
In a nutshell, the formula is: Why, What, Who, How, Now.
#1 The “Why” – Painting the Big Picture & The Problem
The “why” is painting the reason that your speech is important to the people in the room.
It’s laying out the problem that they might be facing or the pain that they might be feeling or the challenge that they might be encountering.
One way to do that is to ask questions at the beginning of your speech. And to start your speech with ways to get the audience engaged and nodding and saying “yes, tell me more!”
One great way to open any speech in this way to get people to lean in is to say “what if?”
“What would it be like if?” By asking a question like that, you’d do something very powerful. You get the audience into their imagination, and perhaps even into a place of desire. For example, in this blog post I shared: “
Think about your audience, what is it that they want? What do they desire? What is something that would get them excited and interested in what you have to share? That’s the “why”.
#2 The “What” – The Solution
Once you’ve laid out the “why” and the problem, it’s time to share the solution, AKA: the “What.” In this step we do not touch on the details of the solution but rather the bigger picture.
What are the basic steps needed to take to get to the solution? For example, in this blog post, the “What” is when I laid out my “Why / What / Who / How / Now formula overview – without all the details (yet).
#3 The “Who” – Is You!
By now you’ve laid out something to pique the audience’s interest, to get them engaged and excited. You’ve shared the problem or the challenge. So you’ve connected with them on that level and you’ve shared that you have a solution.
But you haven’t gone deep into it yet. The next thing you want to share is why should the audience listen to you?
Why do you know about this topic? What makes you a credible expert? I break this is into two parts:
- What makes you a credible expert, what’s your experience or your background?
- What’s your story?
And this is where you can get into more of an emotional connection.
TIP: You don’t want the story portion of your speech to be too long or too short- it’s about balance. The last thing you want is your audience to “check out” during a long story. My rule of thumb is taking about 5-10 minutes (of a 60-90 minute speech) in my story.
#4 The “How”– It’s in the details.
This is where you really get into the solution. What are you offering them? What is the solution you are providing them with?
You go beyond just the solution here, you show them how they can put it into practice.
Here you can outline the steps and go into more detail about the solution.
#5 The “Now”– Taking action.
Now it’s time for your audience to take action! Here is where you give them something that they can use or do right away to start working on the solution and generate results right away.
You don’t want to leave your audience hanging!
Whether it’s a product, service or even an exercise or new practice, you should be giving them a takeaway that allows them to take immediate action, while they are excited and motivated to do so.