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CD1 Prix Martin Ennals 2023 DW 05011
By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com
Most of the people I coach do not write their speeches. They rely on a speechwriter who either fails to capture their voice or delivers a text that has been written to be read, not spoken. 
This makes it incredibly difficult to deliver in a natural and convincing way. 
Most senior professionals (or leaders) prefer to speak from briefing notes with key points, as this allows them to convey these ideas in their own words. 
But sometimes, they have to deliver a keynote speech in a formal setting and cannot go off script. 
So how to do you get your points across but not sound scripted? 
Speak to the audience, not read to them
I heard the speech that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, recently gave at the Martin Ennals Award Ceremony in Geneva. 
I was in the audience as I coached the three awarded human rights defenders for their remarks to the media and at the ceremony. 
CD Prix Martin Ennals 2023 DW 04941
I was really struck by how naturally the High Commissioner delivered his remarks and felt he was speaking to me and not at me. What was he doing to captivate the audience? 
  • Firstly, he had a conversational tone as if he was speaking to someone he knew.
  • Secondly, he built a connection with his words to the people in the room, praising their tireless efforts to give a voice to the voiceless.
  • Thirdly, he matched his tone and words with his body language, making eye contact with the audience.
How often do you see this? I observe a lot of speakers, and believe me, it is very rare. Most of them fail to align their voice, body language and words – and many of them rarely look up when speaking. 
If you watch the whole speech of the High Commissioner, you will see that he is looking at the audience as he makes and expands on the same point. He looks down only to remind himself of the next point and then looks up again to deliver it. 
It is a technique known as SEE-STOP-SAY and was used by Ronald Reagan, an actor who became a US President. I go into it in more depth in this blog
It takes some practice, and the High Commissioner doesn’t always do it. However, he is so much better than the speakers who look up at the audience mid-sentence or at a random moment which has no connection with the thought they want to convey. 
I have trained diplomats making speeches in very formal settings, such as the UN Human Rights Council, in this technique, and it really makes the audience sit up and listen. And as for the speaker, it helps them come across as approachable, accessible and authentic – qualities that are key if you want to be a great public speaker. 
I believe it is best to deliver a speech with notes (or ideally TED style no notes). However, if you have to use a script, have a read of my blog on how to do it so it sounds natural and spontaneous.


Author's bio

clairedooleportrait 200Claire Doole is a former BBC correspondent and international spokeswoman who is passionate about helping people communicate with confidence. Since 2006, she has successfully trained hundreds of professionals in the art of presenting and public speaking, talking to the media, managing communications in a crisis, and writing for the web. In addition, she has coached C-level executives and public figures to give powerful TEDx and TED style talks in Europe and the Middle East. A Swiss and UK national, Claire trains and coaches in French and English.

Claire is also a highly experienced moderator having facilitated panel discussions with government ministers, NGO activists, humanitarians and human rights specialists at major events.

Claire helps clients design their virtual, hybrid and in-person events and runs workshops on organising and moderating at events.