Justin Cobb on Writing an Inspiring and Evocative Speech

Leadership / June 7, 2019

As an international entrepreneur and business owner, Justin Cobb is regularly called on to speak at conferences, rallies and awards ceremonies.

A good speech informs and educates the listener. A great speech entertains as well. A legendary speech also inspires. Most people can do the first two. Especially after putting some effort into gaining confidence and working on a commanding stage presence. But it’s only a small number of people who can do all three. So how do they do it? We asked Justin Cobb for a few tips.

Invoke Emotion

People are emotional by nature. Though information may help them learn, it’s emotions that inspire them. People are also empathetic. When we sense emotion in others, we feel it too. Speak about something that is important to you, and don’t be afraid to feel it too. When you feel passion, or joy, or sadness, your audience will feel it with you. When they feel it, they’ll care about your story. And you definitely should:

Tell a Story

Psychologists believe that one of the reasons human beings invented storytelling was to impart information in a way that people will remember. In tribal times, if you told someone “Don’t go in the forest or a bear will eat you” they’ll forget it in ten minutes. Before you know it, they’ll be out foraging for berries and being eaten by a bear. But the tribal chiefs found that when they told a powerful, engaging story, about a man who forgot the words of the chiefs and got eaten by a bear, people would remember it.

Next time you give a speech, don’t just consider whether the information is there. Don’t just consider whether or not you’ll get a laugh. Consider the feelings of the audience as they listen, and ask yourself will they walk away knowing to stay out of the forest, or if they’ll be eaten by bears.


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