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Why does Hollywood insist on remaking good movies? There didn’t appear to be anything wrong with Footloose the first time it came out, or with The Pink Panther, Arthur and, especially, Halloween. They are still lauded as great movies with millions of fans. However, movie industry executives decided it would be a good idea to take the originals and remake them. Why? Probably to make money, but unless there was a significant need to update technology, illustration or special effects, these remakes weren’t necessary. And what happened? Ultimately major flops. My recommendation is the movie industry should remake the bad movies that could have been good. Redo those movies that missed the mark because of bad casting or directing or awful special effects. Those are the movies that need improving. Don’t mess with what’s successful.

In communications, major flops aren’t uncommon either, but you can learn and improve from the experiences. It’s usually most obvious in speeches and presentations where the presenters are not prepared, don’t believe in their topic or just aren’t very good at speaking. The third option I can forgive – not everyone is a born presenter, but with practice and following helpful steps, improvements can be made.

Perhaps the most important component of a successful presentation is to create the thesis and develop unity. That means every paragraph, every sentence and word should be carefully crafted and chosen to relate to and support the thesis. This keeps the speech focused and helps the audience retain the message. If it’s not about your topic, don’t say it.

I recently attended a recognition dinner where it was a tale of two speeches. As usually what happens at these affairs,  two individuals were called upon after dinner to talk to the accomplishments and achievements of the award recipient.

The first speaker stood and without any notes began a painful monologue that rambled, did not have a clear message and went nearly three times beyond her allotted time. What was most disconcerting, however, was during the speech this woman spoke mainly about herself and not the award recipient. Most audience members squirmed uncomfortably, and someone even exclaimed, “Wasn’t this supposed to be about Debra?” When she finished, I think the audience clapped in politeness, grateful she was exiting the stage.

The next speaker approached the podium, brought out a binder that contained a speech neatly typed in large font on paper secured in plastic sheets. Her preparedness immediately alerted me as to her capability. I let out a sigh of relief and leaned back to enjoy. She acknowledged the award recipient, thanked the crowd for attending and dove right in with great confidence. Her speech was witty, insightful, kind and focused solely on the person receiving the award. She even came in under her five minutes. The end of her speech was met with great applause.

A special occasion speech is intended to entertain, celebrate a person and maybe even inspire those in attendance. One of the greatest lessons in preparing a speech is to look at what others have done and use the good examples to shape communications.

  • Prepare.
  • Develop a thesis and create unity in your content.
  • Practice and time the speech.
  • Highlight remarkable tributes of the honoree.
  • Be positive and be brief.