When figuring out how to write and deliver a speech, the process can feel massively overwhelming. That’s why I recommend listening to one specific song when creating your presentation →
“New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra
This 1970s tune is more than a melody for dreaming of skyscrapers and Central Park. Scientifically, the rhythm, outline and other specific factors make this decades-prevalent song a perfect example of fundamental speech techniques.
I’m about to outline and share these must-know factors that will make your next speech absolutely amazing.
My best tips for public speaking nerves? I listen to “New York, New York” often, especially before going onto a stage and delivering a talk. This tune is truly the perfect paradigm of how to give a speech that not only gives great content - but keeps listeners captivated.
Frank begins the song "Start spreading the news" - with confidence. There isn’t coughing. Fumbling. Hesitation in his call to action. He calls out to the listener from the start with a phrase that also creates mystery. “What news?!” They feel called to listen and find out what the next words are.
Even if you have a fear of public speaking, starting out the talk in a slow, confident way will help you proceed to the rest of the speech with confidence.
The end of this song has an unparalleled climax: The explosive NEW YORK NEW YORKKKKK.
At this climactic finale, Sinatra closes with a highly expressive bang and lets the musical tune go on past his final words. Just as the music still plays after Sinatra’s last words, don’t drop the microphone and walk off stage quickly, even if nerves hit.
Stay on stage with a few smiles after your final lines to the audience. Give them a chance for final eye contact and to applaud before turning off the stage.
This is one of the most important tips for public speaking nerves → Place focus on changing tempo rather than what the audience may be thinking.
Throughout this song, Sinatra sings slower and faster. At the start, wistful and dreaming Frank sings out slowly “I want to be a part of it”. However, by the end, as he gains confidence and sees himself doing well in the big city, the words are faster → “And find I’m a number one, top of the list, King of the hill, number one.”
When sharing challenges, slow words down to help your listener to connect with you and feel understood. For most people with a fear of public speaking, the tendency is to talk quicker - so it’s especially important here.
Then, as you talk faster about how they can achieve their dreams or work on the topic, you build up their momentum and excitement - enforced with a quicker pace.
At the start, “start spreading the news” is shared quietly, like a whisper between girlfriends over coffee. As the excitement grows, we FEEL that energy grow with the LOUDER cry of “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere”.
A change in volume signifies the emphasis on a specific “you must hear this!” message.
There are other well-known speakers excellent at using volume, such as:
The next time you watch a Youtube video or attend a live event, take notice of how great speakers shift the use of volume to break the monotony and give LIFE to a speech.
Starting out, Sinatra’s voice has a deep softness. When Frank hits the core message the words turn bright and hard. The phrases are more clipped. This is very intentional and exactly perfect for your topic, too.
When you arrive at your final LISTEN TO THIS! point, talk with blunt, direct-sounding words, whether →
Short, fast-spoken terms are perfect to deliver the core of what you want listeners to take away. Plus, this is one of the most important tips for public speaking nerves BECAUSE when you speak with powerful, short-word confidence, you feel more powerful on stage yourself.
Articulation, the way we enunciate and deliver words, is often overlooked when people deliver speeches. While most are quick to focus on the content and trying to slow down, how words are articulated is vital for a truly inspiring speech.
In the beginning, Sinatra lets the word flow into each other ("start spreading the news"). In contrast, at the core message ("if I can make it there, I can make it anywhere") he puts down every word and chisels it emphatically like a block of marble into a statue.
Frank brings a wide range of voice delivery, from whispering, soft pillow-talk to the sharp-cutting tone.
“These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray…” is shared in a wistful manner, which so many wander lusters listening relate to. By the end, the strong “It’s up to you, New York!” is said in a much sharper, louder, more confident voice.
Listening to the song, one starts in small town wistful vibes and goes on the journey with Frank to walking the streets of 5th Avenue in stride.
Similarly, your audience can go on a journey with you. Begin with a softer, more hopeful voice in the beginning. Share the tales of you or your clients - how they started in a way that is LIKE your audience. By the end, have that strong emotioned confidence.
The wide range of who Frank speaks to is vital. He has the bar talk first (“I wanna be a part of this…” like he’s talking to a friend over gin & tonics) and by the end is addressing a larger crowd (“It’s up to you, New York, New York!”)
Starting small not only feels easier for you, especially if you have a fear of public speaking, but as you talk as if to a greater expanse of people, you widen up the room and expand the experience for your listeners, as well.
Clear and unambiguous phrasing is one of the biggest mistakes I see.
From having commas (pauses) placed intentionally to exclamations (which phrases are to be uttered with excitement), having clear storytelling units is vital.
This song was originally NOT written for Sinatra but a musical with Lisa Minelli. Since, there are lines that’ve had different phrasings and use of punctuation. Instead of “If I can make it there, you know I’m gonna make it anywhere”, some other phrases away have been →
While phrases like those above still function literally, they don’t have the same, crisp meaning and message as the song you hear on iTunes or Spotify today. It cuts out the baby, many “New Yorks” and “You knows” and focuses on the true, real message.
Similarly, your voice is even more powerful when it says the hard-hitting words alone - with less extra wordings like “if you…”, and “just”, as well as having commas at the right places, using pauses for emphasis.
One of my strongest tips for public speaking nerves and writing a speech?
Leave room for pauses.
Add commas and ellipses to CREATE pauses - and let yourself slow down while speaking on stage.
The pause in the song lets Sinatra breathe and have a mini-restart. For you, the pause also gives you a meditative moment and stillness to break and come back to the audience.
"Start spreading the news" - PAUSE - "I’m leaving today"
Walk onto stage with the frame of mind that you have plenty of time to tell each story. Especially if you have a fear of public speaking, know that 3 minutes may feel like 3 hours, but that’s because of nerves, not actual timing.
The core message of this Frank Sinatra song is incredibly clear. If you want to make it in the world, go to New York and prove it to you and the world!
Throughout the song, specific lyrics create mini Calls To Action, such as “I’m gonna make a brand new start of it” and “It’s up to you, New York.”
Use similar direct action words to create a rising energy and motivation within your listeners.
Each time you listen to this song, you’re going to notice the nuances notice above. Each time you note a change in tempo or volume or the way a pause is used, you’re on your way to be that much more incredible of a speech giver.
By the way: my brilliant team member Daniel Finkernagel came up with this!
To get more specific strategies that’ll take you from nervous how to deliver and write a speech and into a confident woman rocking the stage, get the Stage Ready Workbook: 10 dynamic steps to become a “Wow, she’s so good!” speaker