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"Tell them what you're going to say, say it, then tell them what you told them" is the well-worn advice for writing and delivering a speech. If you want to motivate your employees, however, you need to put heart into the preparation and delivery. Whether you are bolstering employee morale because of a poor quarter or challenging them to reach new heights, your motivating speech can achieve its ends if it is well-crafted and delivered.
Planning Your Speech
Think about some of the greatest motivational speeches from the past, from Winston Churchill rallying the British against Hitler to JFK's challenge to Americans to do more for their country, these speakers employed a call-for-action from their audiences. Watch famous speeches on YouTube to get a sense of the speakers' cadence, choice of words and delivery. Also, take note of how the speakers used certain words. Martin Luther King repeated "I have a dream" to emphasize his points. President Kennedy offered a balance in his "Ask not ..." passage. Notice that all great speakers use short phrases in repetition to drive their points home and keep the audience engaged.
Monroe's Motivated Sequence
One effective format for a motivational speech is Monroe's Motivated Sequence, a five-step model that can be adapted to fit almost any situation. For example, capture your employees' attention with a riveting statistic and convince them that there is a need to address the statistical problem, then demonstrate that there is a solution to the problem. Paint a visual picture of what happens if the problem is solved, such as higher sales and more job security for everyone. Then paint a picture of what happens if it is not solved, such as a need to cut costs and reduce payroll. Conclude the speech by challenging your employees to take action to solve the problem.
Write the first draft of your speech quickly. Do not worry about grammar, spelling or word choice – you just want to record your ideas. Walk away from it for at least a day if you can. After that, edit your draft for content, organization and language. Be sure that the thoughts you want to convey are expressed in a logical sequence and in language that is straightforward and not laced with jargon. Ideally, you will deliver the speech without reading it. If there are passages where the wording is critical, such as policy or legal issues, be prepared to explain them in layman's terms.
Whether you are consoling the employees about recent failures or preparing them to embrace future challenges, your delivery must be personal, persuasive and passionate. Talk with the employees, not at them. Use your natural style of talking. Don't change your voice or use words you wouldn't normally use. If you attempt to change your delivery style, your employees will notice and you will lose credibility. A motivational speech is an emotional appeal, so your presentation must be made with passion. If your speech is addressing a morale problem, avoid blaming anyone for the problem. Instead, emphasize that everyone can be part of the solution.