There are times when one small speech can send a ripple through society; when someone is able to tame their emotions and find the perfect words to deliver a message that most people couldn't articulate.
This honor used to belong only to political leaders or high profile figures. Today, more people are feeling compelled to speak out and with a video camera in so many pockets, the stages are endless.
The challenge is, especially when it comes to topics you're passionate about, sometimes the emotions are overwhelming and ultimately inhibit an otherwise great speech. Should the opportunity ever arise for you to deliver a speech about your passion, regardless of what that is, it's important to get your point across with emotion and enthusiasm without getting carried away and risk the message getting lost in the process.
Here are four simple rules for keeping your cool during a hot topic presentation.
Stick to a format that works for you.
When Halsey took to the stage for the Women's March in 2018, she did not hold back. But as she said at the top of her speech, she's most comfortable "I don't really know how to do a speech unless it rhymes." So she delivered the entire speech as a loose rhyme that flowed and told powerful and painful stories about herself and her friends experiencing assault. She used her voice in the best way she knew how.
So whether you want to rhyme, use a PowerPoint, or read your entire speech, do what makes you most comfortable on stage. You'll feel confident in your abilities and won't feel like you're trying to force yourself to fit into one particular mold.
Use the power of repetition.
There are a hundred things I could say about the bravery and power of the teenagers who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Florida and who are now speaking out about gun control. But when Emma Gonzalez gave a speech at a rally, she stood out as a force to be reckoned with.
She spoke about the importance of gun control and the necessity of changes to the law. Her entire speech was emotional and gut-wrenching. Toward the end, she called out some specific behaviors and beliefs held by politicians that she did not agree with, yelling, "We call BS!" after each statement. Soon, the audience joined in and it was a breathtaking moment that won't soon be forgotten.
This exact phrasing might not work for your situation, but repetition and call outs has long been a powerful technique in speech. You can use repetition to make specific points about really stand out to your audience.
Tell them why it matters to you.
Oprah Winfrey was awarded the Cecille B. de Mille award at the 2018 Golden Globes and her acceptance speech did not disappoint. Oprah used the power of story to talk about the importance of recognizing people of color in the entertainment industry, about the power of speaking your truth, and about the importance of women speaking up as a result of the #metoo movement.
She talked about herself as a child seeing Sidney Poitier being honored as the first black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor and how it was the first time she'd seen a black man being celebrated in such a public forum. She told the story of Reecey Taylor, a black woman whose attackers were never brought to justice. Oprah wove story throughout her speech as a powerful example of just why what she was saying was so important.
Try not to cry.
When you're speaking about something you're passionate about or is very personal to you, your emotions will be very close to the surface. That emotion will make your speech powerful, but you should try not to cry.
Sheryl Sandberg's speech at Virginia Tech's 2017 commencement is a great example of a motivational, personal, and powerful speech. She spoke about the death of her husband and had a powerful impact on the audience, but maintained her poise.
You're passionate about this topic because it's impacted your life in some way. Tell your audience why. Share your personal story as a way to illustrate why it's so important that they listen up.
If you have a message you feel compelled to deliver, keep your emotions in check and let the presentation speak for itself.