How To Captivate Your Audience

how to captivate your audienceYou may have read, in a previous post of mine, that I’ve joined a toastmasters’ club recently, and this past Wednesday I was scheduled for my first speech, called the ice breaker.

As I was preparing for my speech, I observed how a speech structure resembles a blog post structure.  In both cases you need to captivate your audience.

There are two ways you can captivate an audience, one is by speaking to it, and the other is by writing to it, but in both cases the same rules apply.  So, in this post, I wanted to discuss some of the points that make  a strong blog post.

As a matter of fact, a speech and an article are pretty much the same thing. If you were to write your speech entirely and read it out loud, or if you were to read your article out loud, both should make sense to the listener. If not, you’ve got some more left work to do.

In This post, I’ve put some tips together that can help you make your writing more interesting so you can captivate your audience.

 A Clear Opening

Every good speech and ever good article or blog post should start with a clear opening. If you are not clear about what you are going to discuss, or if you start too weak, you may lose your audience before you even had the change grab it.

Now, how do you start strong you might ask?

You start strong by creating an interesting, attention grabbing onset that will captivate your audience’s curiosity right from the get go.  If you manage to do this well, your audience (your readers) will be all ears and eyes, and they will want to know more.

Evaluate your Audience

A great opening calls for an evaluation of your audience. Whom are you speaking to or writing for?

In my speech, since the theme was “helping the audience get to know me” the logical and most attention grabbing idea I found, was to tell them that I was born and raised in France, and setting the stage from there.

I knew that this would be a perfect introduction to my speech because I live here the US, but if I were to give that same speech in my own country of origin, you can bet that I wouldn’t have started this way, now would I? Thus the importance of evaluating your audience and adapting your opening accordingly.

[box type=”info”]Just any introduction might not work with just any audience. Always make sure you know your audience when preparing your opening/introduction.[/box]

Use Appropriate Opening Tools

While there are no set rules to create a strong opening, there are few concepts that work well on any type of audience.  Here are a few of them:

  1. Ask a question – one that relates to the topic you’re going to discuss.
  2. Use an appropriate quotation – one that will skillfully introduce your topic.
  3. Give an adequate example – chose an illustration that will introduce your topic well.
  4. Make a visual comparison – both in speech or in written form you can use an image – a visual- that will introduce your topic in a very captivating way. In writing that image could be a metaphor.
  5. Create an adequate story – You can create a little story that will introduce your topic and captivate your audience from the get go.

Draft a Chronological Setting

When things are organized chronologically, it makes your topic so much easier to understand and follow through. Whether you’re speaking or writing, chronological order always works best.

When I opened my speech, which was about “me” I started where I was born and raised, then I went on to drama schools I attended, then I went on to mentioned my work as an actress, then I went on to why I moved to the US, then I mentioned my work as an internet marketer and freelance writer until now, all the way to the reason why I’ve joined a toastmasters’ club.

I didn’t go back and forth losing my audience and myself.  I had a perfect chronological setting. As a result my evaluator wrote; “great organizational skills” in my evaluation book.

[box type=”info”]Think of a movie. If the story wasn’t told in a chronological manner, there would be no movie to start with.[/box]

Draft the Body of your article

While drafting the body of your article, you could choose 3-10 steps or subheading. The number of subheadings you will decide on will depend on how long you want your article to be, how much information you want to include under each subheadings, what type of audience you’re writing for, the style of blog post or article, as well as your own preferences and style.

In other words, there is no specific rule as for how many subheadings you want to include, and how long or how short you want your article to be.  You may have heard of a blogger named Kevin Duncan who has written an 8,317 word blog post. At the same time, you’ll also find successful bloggers who write rather short posts.

It’s not so much about the length of your article, but more on how well constructed it is, and if you’re passed along the information you have in mind well.

If your blog post is long, but half of it is only rambling, or it’s got a 500 word introduction, than where is the value? On the other hand, if your blog post is long because it’s like a mini manual full of juicy tips, than all the better for you, and your readers.

[box type=”info”]Always keep in mind that no matter how long or short your piece is, your audience needs two main things; a) understand your point and b) enjoy what they are reading at the same time.[/box]

Make Sure your Article Flows

The main thing that needs to happen in order to keep your audience motivated and captivated is to make sure that your article flows.  The rule number one rule to make sure of that is to proofread – but not to correct misspellings in this case -proofread with flow of your story in mind.  Only when you know that you have an article that flows well, should you worry about the little mistakes and miss-spellings.

To make sure that your article flows make sure that you’ve got the following points covered:

  • Select an appropriate outline that your audience can easily understand and follow
  • Make your message (your article body) is clear to your audience by choosing the main points and subpoints carefully
  • Create a strong introduction and conclusion

[box type=”info”]Always use appropriate transitional words. Remember that those little transitional words are very important for the flow of your article.[/box]

Your Conclusion is Important

Both in speech and in writing, conclusions are important. Your conclusion is in a way the sister of your introduction, except that instead of being your first opportunity to convince your audience it’s your last opportunity to do so.

You could use your conclusion to reinforce your idea, and leave a lasting impression.  You could conclude with a summary of the main points of the body of your article, and/or motivate your audience to take some specific actions.

Just like in the opening, you could also use a question, anecdote or quotation that will help you close your article perfectly.

In my own conclusion here, I would say that there is a method to captivate your audience, and if you follow such method, you will be able to create articles that work every time, no matter what your topic is and no matter how long or short your story is.

[box type=”info”]Always pay close attention to the unfolding of your story when you write your blog post. No matter what you write, there is a beginning, a middle and an end, and all of it needs to make sense.[/box]


Happy writing and story telling! Your turn now? Let here what you have to say on the subject. 
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47 thoughts on “How To Captivate Your Audience”

  1. Hi Sylviane,

    What a wonderful surprise! Thank you for the kind mention of my 8,317-word post. I really appreciate it. 🙂

    Great post, and I’m glad you followed up my mention with stating there are many successful bloggers who write much shorter posts than the one I wrote. That’s very, very true. Long posts can work great, but short posts packed with helpful info work great, too. As I like to repeat: There’s no ONE WAY to be successful at blogging. 🙂

    This is an excellent breakdown for how a writer can captivate her/his audience. Well, done, Sylviane. I’ll be Tweeting this shortly.

    Thanks again! Hope you are having a wonderful Monday.

    – Kevin
    Kevin Duncan invites you to read..The Howdy Neighbor TechniqueMy Profile

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for coming and I’m glad I finally met you as what you share is great stuff.

      Going to your post today (a bit late) I thought it was interesting that your topic was about being nice to other bloggers and share them, as it was just what I’d done here with you. I tell you, I don’t believe in coincidence.

      Thanks for coming by and for sharing. Really appreciate it!

  2. Hi Sylviane,

    You must have done so well at the meeting with your opening speech 🙂

    Yes indeed, it’s quite like our blog posts, except that you are talking to a live audience and there are NO edits – you just need to be confident and speak, unlike our blog posts, which you can edit at least…thank goodness for that!

    I agree with your points, you do need to have a very clear start and end, and ensure your speech and post flow through and make sense. I guess writing down the tips helps when you have to speak, so that you stay inline, or else one can go haywire at times.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂
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    1. Hi Harleena,

      Yes, for both speech and article structure prevents us to go haywire, which wouldn’t be a good thing. In the case of a speech it’s timed so there no room to mess up.

      Years ago I witnessed a speaker that went really haywire in his speech and way over time. The audience and the people responsible for timing were starting to get restless. Really something I wouldn’t want to go through.

      When writing it’s the same thing. I’ve heard bloggers telling me at times that their post go all over the place or that they’re adding stuff that don’t really belong there. This could have a negative effect on the readers as well, just like the listeners of a speech.

      Thanks for your feedback, and have a great day.

  3. I just got back to blogging from a break, and I have been thinking about freelance writing (especially on improving my writing skills, before I start working for others).

    I am not really sure if my writing is good. My judgement is bound to be biased. People have told me that they liked my blog guests (although I still feel kind of anxious about writing for money). Maybe I should just go with it, see how it goes. It’s just like guest posting, right? I have done that a lot. So, maybe I shouldn’t be too worried.

    Opening tools – My preference is asking a question. I have tried all of them, except for quotes. I don’t remember a time when I started out my blog posts with a quote. Perhaps, I should give that a try? 😀

    Flow – This is also something I have been working on, especially on writing stronger introductions and conclusions. Hopefully that will go well 🙂

    Anyways, thank you for the amazing article, Sylviane.

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    1. Hi Jeevan,

      Yes, I had noticed that you took a break, and it’s nice to have you back.

      I think that what you need more is self confidence as for your writing it’s pretty good. Don’t worry so much and go for it, and I’m pretty sure you’ll do great.

      Thanks for dropping by, and nice to see you again.

  4. Congratulations Sylviane, I knew your speech was coming up soon and I’m sure that they all thoroughly enjoyed it. Did you? Was it everything you thought it would be? I’m sure by the time you got up there you weren’t nervous at all.

    I actually like the way you did share the structure of a post compared to how you would write out a speech. Honestly, this is somewhat what I learned early on but as I progressed just veered away from the layout structure. Everything I’m doing now just kind of fell into place. As you know my posts are much more conversational in tone but I’m sure that structure doesn’t work for everyone.

    You know how I feel about asking questions and I don’t include as many quotes as I probably should. I guess I just get to writing and then it slips my mind but I do try to remind myself to include a few other things that will help change it up or make it stand out more.

    Really great outline Sylviane, you did a wonderful job. I appreciate you sharing this with us and enjoy your week.

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    1. Hi Adrienne,

      My speech was fine, and I wasn’t nervous much. I guess I’m too old for that 🙂 I’m not nearly as nervous about things as I used to be when I was younger, and that’s a good thing. People loved my speech. My life is so diverse that it was easy to make them interested, I have to say.

      Of course, you don’t always have to have such structure as you write, you could skip it all together and do your own thing and still make it work for you.

      Yes, using questions and quotes work well, because people love them. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Thanks for coming, Adrienne.

  5. Thanks for all these tips Sylviane. You’ve given us some great suggestions from start to finish.

    I need to work on my closing. That is the weakest part of the post. I am definitely going to take the advice you shared with us here.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve had to stand in front of a crowd but by reading this post I’m sure you had no problem at all!

    Definitely passing this along! Have a great new week ahead!
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    1. Hi Corina,

      I’m like you, conclusion is my weakest point too 🙂 I don’t know why, I get lazy when it come to close an article and even a speech, so I need to work on that too and follow my own advice.

      I’m glad you appreciated the content, and thanks so much for coming.

  6. Hi Sylviane,

    You are spot on!!! I took three different speaking classes in both undergrad and graduate school and I had a speaking coach for six years. I currently speak at various conferences all over the country.

    I say all of the time that some writing styles are similar to speaking styles and in your case you are absolutely right!

    In speaking as in writing for blogs I always say:

    Introduction – tell them what you’re going to tell them – set it up through a story or illustration that your audience can identify with.

    Body – Tell them…

    Conclusion – Tell them what you told them… People forget and when you do this they feel like there is a real conclusion. I even remind them sometimes in the conclusion of the story or illustration in the introduction so that there is a true open and close… like bookends.

    I love writing and even love speaking more… It’s one of the funnest and most exciting things one can do to advance their business and they go hand in hand.

    The best speakers are almost always good writers. It’s not necessarily true of the inverse though because you have to learn to control your voice, emotions, and body language appropriately for what you’re trying to accomplish at any one given moment.

    Great post Sylviane. I wish you the absolute best as you work to perfect your speaking and writing skills!

    ~ Don Purdum
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    1. Hi Don,

      Yes, I know, you are giving speeches left and right and you must be great, and well seasoned.

      As for me I have no problem with voice intonations and stuff because I used to be an actress for 10 years of my life, and acting and public speaking are very close. Since I can also write, I don’t have much trouble writing my speeches either, so I know I’ll be OK.

      I can’t wait to give speeches in front of large audiences. I know it’s coming 🙂 in my future.

      Thanks for coming, Don

  7. Hi Sylviane,

    It is a difficult task to captivate your audience. I like the way you shared your experience with giving your first speech and writing. I think an opening is the most difficult part of all. We have to capture the attention of our audience first with a great opening line and introduction so that they will sit up straight and pay attention.

    The opening tools you have given us are so helpful and I thank you for that…

    Sometimes when I start writing, I go all over the place and then have to make it flow so that people can easily follow. That is the strongest part of editing I have to do because I always tend to get off track 🙂

    This is why when you mention making a draft, I got my AHA moment. I usually don’t do that but now, because I know my flaws, I will implement that into my writing. Hopefully it keeps me on track and I don’t have to spend so much time editing.

    Great post Sylviane,

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    1. Hi Donna,

      It’s always nice when someone appreciates your tips and tells you that they will try and implement them. That’s great Donna 🙂

      I remember you’ve told me in the past that you tend to go all over the place, so following a pattern like explained here, may be a time saver. In any case, your posts are better and better these days, so don’t sweat it too much.

      Thank you for coming and have a great evening.

  8. Hey Sylviane,

    As you pointed out there is this duality thing between making a speech and writing a blog post. But the main thing as you said is that you want to keep your audience in mind. You want to know what would they be interested in and focus on those topics.

    So it sounds like you’re not only marketing yourself on your blog, but also you’re marketing yourself at making speeches. When it comes to marketing, there’s no corner and turn that hasn’t been touched by it. We are all constantly marketing, especially when it comes to public speaking!

    Thanks for sharing!
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    1. Hi Sherman,

      Marketing used to be very different in the past. It used to be more blunt, so to speak, but those days are over now. A Good marketer is someone that delivers on information and tips nowadays, and that’s exactly what we do with our blog posts.

      Thanks you for your input.

  9. Hi Sylviane,

    First, congratulations on making it successfully through your first speech. Wish you more and more success as you pursue your public speaking endeavors.

    Thanks for all these valuable tips Sylviane. You’ve given us some great suggestions on how to write a blog post that is captivating.

    I need to work more on the flow of ideas through the post. I feel like this is my weakest part of the post or I should say in some posts. Some topics I find easier than others. I am definitely going to take the advice you shared with us here such as drafting an outline with the points and subheadings.

    Thanks Sylviane for a great post with lots of valuable tips as always. Have a great week ahead.

    Be Blessed,

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    1. Hi Neamat,

      Well, I’ve never thought you had any problem with the flow of your articles, maybe you’re being hard on yourself 🙂 However, I know for a fact that we can all improve, no matter what, so we can always try to implement tips that could help us do that.

      Thank you for coming by, and have a great day!

  10. Hi Sylviane
    ,this is a Wonderful Article First, congratulations on making it successfully through your first speech. Wish you more and more success as you pursue your public speaking endeavors Keep it up Thanks a lot For Sharing me ,

    Regard Leena Shah ,
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  11. Hi Sylviane,

    Great post and this is a wonderful comparison. The similarities are truly there.

    The point you made regarding making your article flow is very valid. Whether in a blog post or a speech, you want to make sure that it all flows smoothly or else you run the risk of losing your audience. In terms of flow, you also would want to make sure to use the same type of spelling throughout, don’t you think?

    If you’re spelling the word “alot” then keep it consistent rather than sometimes saying “a lot”. Not sure how much of a difference things like that make but this is something that I do that I need to stop.

    Also, having a clear opening is very important. If you can’t capture them with the first few sentences, then it’s probably a lost cause.

    Excellent post you wrote here with some equally excellent tips, Sylviane.

    Hope you have a terrific upcoming weekend.

    – Andrew
    Andrew invites you to read..How To Never Lose Your Blogging GrooveMy Profile

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Yes, good point, it’s a good habit (and usually ones that comes naturally) to be consistent with spelling style when available. Consistency is always a good thing to have.

      Thanks for coming and for bring this up.

  12. Hi Sylviane,
    i must say this is an eye opener for all of us, i could not stop reading until i get to the very last word, i even read your signature together – hahahahaha. I would have preferred if you numbered or bulletproof these 7 points, however, this is my humble and foolish opinion.
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    1. Hi Emebu,

      Well, I do use bullet points and numbers a lot, but I also like to use different styles at times, so that’s why this post is the way it is. Sorry about that 🙂 and thank you for coming.

  13. Hi,I must say giving a speech is much harder than writing a blog post. But, there are many similarities the way you explained.Nice tips. Having a point is one thing, the way you go about it decides the audience reaction.I once did a speech among 20 people and people usually pay more attention when you are live naturally. They are very eager to listen your first words. It was an awesome experience though.Congrats on joining toastmaker.

    1. Hi Rohan,

      Yes, giving a speech and writing is different as far as how one feels doing it, but the construction is about the same.

      I’m glad you enjoyed yourself giving a speech. If you can let go of the nervousness it can be great fun.

      Thanks 🙂 and thanks for coming.

  14. Hey Sylviane,

    Excellent write and hey, you are absolutely correctly. I tested asking questions and people tend to respond more towards it!

    Sometimes, the best call-to-actions could easily be as simple as asking questions. You nailed it dear friend and thanks for sharing!

    Have a great evening and TGIF!
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  15. Hello Sylviane!!I usually don’t comment on people’s blog without introducing myself simply because I love to be part of any blog I comment on.I am vandefan and I am new to your blog. #Make Sure your Article Flows point caught my attention because I believe in uniqueness. like you said if an article is right on point one should not worry about the spelling or little errors.Thanks for sharing your thoughts :.)

    1. Hi Karmakar,

      Yes, indeed, just by reading blogs we can learn so much. Sorry for this late reply, just been a bit out of the loop lately.

      Thanks for coming.

  16. Hi Sylviane,

    Create something which folks enjoy. Entertain them by telling a story, or at least add levity to your work. I dig the Kevin Duncan mention because’s he funny, smart and knows how to entertain his audience with light humor.

    I recall a Weird Al Yankovich post he wrote a while back. Made me chuckle because he’s a funny guy, and I also loved the meld between Weird Al and blogging that Kevin developed.

    I tell my travel stories to entertain, to make folks laugh – here and there – and to share how the anecdotes relate to blogging. I figure that stories are oh so darn popular so why not follow the lead of movies, TV shows, novels and other wildly popular story telling mediums?

    I may relate how we received 51 straight hours of rain earlier this week in Fiji to a lesson in blogging persistence, or I may talk about how our over 3 month stay in Fiji taught us blogging lessons in detaching from outcomes. However I do it, I’m usually telling a story because readers seem to be drawn in by personal stories, and personal appearances.

    Sylviane, thanks so much for this smart share. Tweeting soon, and signing off from Savusavu, Fiji.

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    1. Hi Ryan,

      So sorry for this late reply, but I’ve got a lot going on these days and my blogs had to take a second row for a bit of time.

      Yes, people LOVE stories, we all do, that’s why stories work so well. there’s something about the brain that loves to follow along a story, that’s why movies and novels are so well liked by the public, because most people love story telling.

      In your case, people love your travel stories too, and as you well know it’s been working great for you.

      Thank you for coming and have a great rest of the week.

  17. Hey Sylviane,Wow! You have written an amazing post here.:)You know most of people try to grad the attention of their audience but they don\’t know the perfect approach.I like the way you have listed many points to glow the mind of your audience with a perfect starting. For better results you should start your speech with a question which can interest your audience.I love the way you have given tips about body part, conclusion and more. I am sure it is going to help many people.Thanks for sharing with us.Hope you are enjoying your day.:)~Ravi

    1. Hi Ravi,

      I’m so glad you appreciated this post, and I certainly hope it can help some people out there.

      Thank you so much for coming. I had not forgotten about your comment, just been swamped in other businesses these days.

  18. Hello Ms. Sylviane

    I loved how you use a Toastmaster’s Icebreaker speech with blogging and writing out our post. My favorite point was about making sure the article is flowing. Making sure we are not losing people while they are reading. I am so glad you did great on your Ice breaker speech! Wasn’t it fun? You do have an interesting life in which you can grab the attention of the listeners.

    Thank you again

    1. Hi Gladys,

      As I said to many others, please, forgive my tardiness in my reply, but I had such a very busy and crazy week, that blogging had to take a step back.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, it was fun to do that speech and I wasn’t too nevervous so I could actually enjoy it.

      Thanks for coming and have a great rest of the week.

  19. Hi Sylviane,

    I’ve always wanted to try toastmasters but was not really interested in getting in front of people like that and talking until about 6 or so years ago. Eventually I stepped outside my comfort zone and started speaking publically. So it was interesting to me that a Toastmasters and how to do a blog is similar. I particular like, because I like order, that the flow should be natural and flowing. I think that is the most important thing in writing as well as speaking. Using this in our writing will enhance the flow as well as keep our audience engaged in our writing.

    Great info. Thanks,
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    1. Hi Barbara,

      You’re actually the only person in a while that I can reply to on time. This week has been so crazy for me and my energy for writing has not come back yet, so I’m skipping quite a bit, but it is what it is, and I’m not going to force that right now.

      Toastmasters can help anyone and I’m so glad I’ve joined, even if it’s going to be for a rather short time if I leave the country next spring, unless I keep it up in Italy 🙂

      Order is always a good thing, for everything, and writing and speaking are no different. Order really helps our audience.

      Thank you for coming and have a great rest of the week.

  20. Hi SylvianeIt is rightly said that to bring a visitor at your blog with an attractive headline is surely much difficult but to hold the visitor at your blog till the end of the post is damn difficult. There are two approaches to make a visitor stay at your blog for a longer period of time to eventually convert him as your subscriber or buyer. 1) With a lot of fake and true allurements including an announcement at the beginning that you are going to get a miracle at the end or if you read the post till its end you will get the complete solution of your problem and blah blah blah. 2) This is what you mentioned in this post. Every word of the post should work as a magnet to make visitor stick to the post. No appeal, no promise of big revelation but the quality in ascending order can be the only binding force to captivate your audience. Thanks a lot for sharing this very useful and informative post with a lot of new tips and suggestions.
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    1. Hi Mi,

      I hear what you’re saying. How many times do we read those over promising introductions to only be disappointed at the end. It is better not to promise so much and build the article to a momentum or to a solution that helps people along the way.

      I’m glad you appreciated this blog post and thank you so much for coming.

      Have a great weekend!

  21. Sylviane,

    Writing a post is a lot like writing a speech.

    You are really just using a different form of communication to deliver your ideas. You are still just talking to people. No one loves listening to a speaker more than when they feel the speaker was talking to them as an individual.

    That is what makes a great blog post and a great speech. Of course there is the structure and that is all the same as well. If we learn how to communicate through one form we will be able to do though all of the other forms as well.

    That is so neat that you joined a Toastmasters Club. I love to give speeches. You will do great. I am excited for you.

    Dee Ann
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    1. Hi Deen Ann, and nice to see you here.

      So true, isn’t it? It is indeed exactly the same thing to build a speech and build an article, and when you put the ingredients that work in speeches and put the same ingredients in your articles it has the same effect on your audience. Such ingredients can include: talking to one individual, as you said, use humor if possible, entertain, use illustrations/stories, start with a strong introduction and end with a strong conclusion, and so on. Both work perfect for both speeches and blog posts.

      Glad you enjoyed this post, and see you around soon.

  22. Hi Sylviane,Congratulations on your first speech with toastmasters. I am sure you were excellent. I have never been part of toastmasters or made speeches as such but I have done a lot of training on stage and played the role of MC many times. I had a structure for the training of course and for being an MC at workshops. I have never thought of the similarity between giving a live presentation and writing a post but of course as you have explained they are very similar. I have never thought about my headings (other than the post title) before I write, I go through and break it up later but I am going to give your method a try. Makes sense. Thanks Sylviane for another great post. Sue
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    1. Hi Sue,

      Yes, you would be surprised how if you construct a speech just like you would a blog post/an article it will help you to have a great speech.

      I have to start working on my number 2 speech already, and that’s more work still, but I have to work as fast as I can if I’m to leave the country in May. Time goes fast and it will be here sooner than it seems.

      Have a wonderful week ahead.

  23. Hi Sylvianne,

    Some of the best speakers I find are those who:

    • ask questions = getting their audience involve
    • those who include humor = great way to get your audience attention
    • and those who tell stories = we all want to hear a story!

    Someday I would like to do public speaking but I’m not quite ready yet. I would like to teach my fella business owners how to blog their business. I would like to include a slide presentation on this since I think this type of speech makes much more interesting when a visual graphic is included.

    Thanks for sharing me your nuggets. In will keep them in mind. Have a lovely week and hope you take it easy.

    God bless,
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    1. Hi Angela,

      You’ve said it. These three elements are what make the BEST speeches and those who use them, the best speakers.

      Frankly, I think that anyone with a voice and a will can become a speaker, but there will always be some that are more talented then others. My acting background is helping me a great deal with this.

      Thank you for coming.

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