7 Days, 42+ Speeches: Differentiate or Die

  • SumoMe


Differentiate or Die.  With all the speakers out there, you need to be different to stand out and be remembered.  Ideally, you would have a unique presentation on a unique topic.

That’s the number one thing I learned last week when I listened to 42+ speeches in 7 days.  Live.  And, I analyzed and wrote critiques for 36 of them.  Only a few stand out in my memory.

If you’re curious, here is the breakdown:

  • 27 High School Capstone Speeches
  • 8 Speech Class Speeches
  • 1 Business Meeting Speech
  • 2 Toastmaster Club Speeches
  • 4+ TLI (Toastmaster Leadership Institute) Speeches

The ones I remembered best had something different about them right from the start.  And, for the ones I evaluated that didn’t stand out, I had suggestions!

I’ve mentioned ways to open with a bang before, no matter the topic (questions, startling statements, stories, quotes and poems, and jokes)

Here are a three additional ways to differentiate yourself:

PROPS:  One memorable way to be different is by the skillful use of a prop.  People remember props.  But, try not to use something you’ve already seen.  For example, in a senior high school girl’s capstone speech project at her Christian school, the young lady wanted to open with asking the question, “Is this glass half full or half empty?” while holding a glass half-filled with water.  Of, course she wanted to make the point that it was all how you looked at it and looking at life with a “half-full” attitude was better.

The only problem with this approach was that it was too familiar.  Not different.  So, I suggested that she still ask the question, “Is this glass half full or half empty?” But provide an unexpected answer:  “The glass is completely full.  It is filled part way with water and the rest of the way with air.  God is like the air in our glasses.  He can completely fill us.”  When I suggested that change, her eyes got wide and she said, “Yes!”

ACTING OUT:  Another student had a speech in which Satan was influencing her thinking one way and God was influencing her thinking another way.  I suggested she use her hands as “puppets,” one on the left side of her head and the other on the right and act out the “voices” of Satan and God.

SINGING (only do this if you have a good singing voice):  Another student talked about how he felt led to join the Marines.  I suggested he sing the first stanza of the Marine’s Hymn.

What other ways have you seen speakers differentiate themselves?  What do YOU remember?