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How to Deliver a Motivational Speech to Employees

by Thomas Metcalf

"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 great 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 called 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 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 words -- one syllable words are best -- 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. This five-step model was developed by Alan H. Monroe in the 1930s and can be adapted to fit almost any situation. For example, capture your employees' attention with a riveting statistic such as a sharp decline in quarterly sales. 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 by challenging your employees to take action to solve the problem.

Writing Tips

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.

Delivery Style

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.

About the Author

Thomas Metcalf has worked as an economist, stockbroker and technology salesman. A writer since 1997, he has written a monthly column for "Life Association News," authored several books and contributed to national publications such as the History Channel's "HISTORY Magazine." Metcalf holds a master's degree in economics from Tufts University.

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