As originally answered at Quora.com …
Simply put, a good speech is one that achieves its purpose. I will add the caveat that it is one that has been received by the majority of your listening audience as being good.
As a speaker, we have quite a bit of control as to the preparation, the organization and the delivery of the speech. We strive to be present and in the moment to deliver the best speech that we can, or at least we should be.
We don’t have any control as to how the audience, specifically individual members of the audience, receive and perceive our message. From our perspective as speakers from the stage, we may see lots of smiling faces that seem to be hanging on every word we say. However, in any audience, there will be people who are not ‘in the moment.” They may be focussing on something all together different. Perhaps a personal crisis going on in their life.
They may even have taken offense at a point or a comment that you made and are turning it over and over in their head. The final decision is up to them as to whether they believe that you delivered a great speech, or not.
We see it over and over again in the movie industry. Some critics will absolutely love a movie. Two thumbs up! Others, feel the movie bombed. Three thumbs down! I’m left wondering where that third thumb came from … Its great and it bombed! How can that be? Each of us has our filters of likes, dislikes, biases, prejudices and personal experience that we use to rate everything that we experience in life.
When it comes to my own speeches I have adapted the view of great, greater and greatest. I’ve delivered a lot of so-so speeches in my personal journey to hone my speaking craft. I actively work the system i.e. Toastmasters program and my speeches continue to improve. I have been told by some of my audience members that a specific speech was great. I strive to make each speech greater than the one before it. I often deliver the same speech to different audiences and try to incorporate the recommendations made by my previous evaluators.
I believe in the concept of CANEI (continuous and never ending improvement) promoted by Tony Robbins and Brian Tracy. My greatest speech is sometime off in the future. And likely, I will try to make it greater by doing it again and improving upon it.
I strive for excellence, not perfection …
For further discussion on public speaking, speech development, communication skills and Toastmasters, visit the Live For Excellence Book Store for the following publications:
Blow Your Own Horn!: Personal Branding for Business Professionals
Power Networking For Shy People: How to Network Like a Pro
The Power of Persuasion: Mastering the Art of Influence
The Power of Promotion: Online Marketing For Toastmasters Club Growth
The Savvy Emcee: How to be a Dynamic Master of Ceremonies
Working With Words: Adding Life to Your Oral Presentations
Rae A. Stonehouse is an author, speaker, and self-publishing consultant dedicated to helping others embrace constant improvement and overcome challenges. With over 40 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in psychiatry and mental health, Rae brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for self-development to his writing and presentations.
As a 25+ year member of Toastmasters International, Rae has systematically built his communication abilities and self-confidence to share his insights as an author and speaker. His self-help books and personal development presentations aim to have conversational one-on-one connections with readers and audiences.
Rae is known for his wry sense of humor and sage advice delivered in a relatable coaching style. After four decades as a nurse, Rae has rewired rather than retired, actively writing and pursuing public speaking. He strives to share lessons learned to help others achieve personal and professional growth.