12 Elements of a Professional Quality Speech

What are the elements that make up a professional-quality speech?  What are the elements which would cause someone to watch a DVD recording and say, “I’d pay money to have that speaker talk to my group.”  What elements make a speech appeal to a business or corporate buyer.  There are many.

Some elements are significant.  Some are critical.  All are

A significant element is a “Heart-Attack” element.  It’s something
that has a significant impact on the quality of the speech.  But a
shortcoming in this area COULD be survived.  It’s risky, but you
could live to tell about it.

A critical element is a “Cardiac-Arrest” element.  When your heart
stops, you’re in big trouble.  It’s critical.  A shortcoming in
this area screams Non-Professional.

Here are 12 important elements for delivering a professional-level
speech.  In my opinion, half of them are significant and half of
them are critical.


1.  Be human.  Don’t sweat the mistakes.  Realize that mistakes
make you real.  A small mistake, here and there, isn’t going to
kill you.  Slick isn’t in.

2.  Be organized.  Have an easy-to-follow speech structure.

3.  Be energized.  Have a high-energy opening. 

4.  Be funny.  Humor is a terrific tool on many levels.

5.  Be silent.  Use the power of the pause.

6.  Be changeable.  Avoid sameness.  The key to vocal variety, for
example, isn’t WHAT you do with your voice, it’s how you CHANGE
what you do with your voice.


1.  Be connected.  Eye contact is the critical factor.

2.  Be conversational.  Speaking in a speaker’s voice, or with
sing-song delivery, or being on auto-pilot are the signs of an

3.  Be yourself.  Trying to be another speaker is a mistake.
Trying to match the content or style of Les Brown, Suze Orman,
Anthony Robbins or some other successful celebrity speaker is

4.  Be original.  Do not give a book report.  Don’t share wisdom
that everyone has read in same best-seller books which you have
read.  Mine your own wisdom.  As Patricia Fripp would say: “Be

5.  Be compelling.  Your talk must draw people in.  It should not
be a chore to listen to you or to stay awake.  Use stories to make
your points.  People will pay attention to stories and remember the
pictures you paint in their minds.

6.  Be clean.  Never use suggestive or off-color humor.

Let’s put this in perspective.  Both significant elements and
critical elements are very important to your success.  In my
opinion, it’s unlikely you’ll meet the measure of professional if
you’re missing a critical element.  On the other hand, missing a
significant element is not critical. 

For example, if you’re not naturally a high-energy speaker, having
a high-energy opening is probably not a good idea.  Although it
would be a good idea to put a touch of energy somewhere
in your speech!  The same with humor.  If you’re just not a funny
person, force-fitting humor into your talk may be a bad idea.  But
you should continue to work on developing your humor skills so that
you can eventually add a bit of humor into every talk. 

A speaker who is missing a significant element can often compensate
by being stronger in another area.  It’s difficult, maybe
impossible, to compensate for the lack of a critical element.

Good luck and happy speaking!