When someone asks you to give a speech, what’s the first thing you do? The most common response – “What? Are you sure? I wouldn’t know what to say! Couldn’t you find someone else?” Panicking and saying these things are only natural because speaking in front of an audience, especially if you’re a first-timer, can be really scary. But, there’s a first time for everything; and, you’ll never know how good you are at something if you don’t try it. So, here’s a few tips on how you can deliver a great speech.
Watch someone giving a speech
If it’s your first time to give a speech, nothing helps better than watching a person give a speech. These “professionals” were once amateurs like you. They froze, they panicked, they forgot their speeches, and they got tongue-tied; so, don’t you worry. Watching them give talks would give you an idea of how to deliver yours. Watch how they move and work the audience like how they do in TED. Listen to how they talk and interact with the audience. You don’t have to do exactly what they do. You can develop your own methods as you go along.
Practice saying your speech
Practice always makes perfect. Try saying or reading your speech out loud by yourself first. Some people say look at the mirror while doing so, but I think that’ll just make you more self-conscious. The idea is to internalize your speech so that when you say it, it’ll sound as if it was coming out of your thoughts and mouth naturally.
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After you practice by yourself, gather a small group of people and practice saying your speech in front of them. This will help you get rid of the stage fright. Get their feedback – good or bad – and use them to improve your speech.
Know what you’re talking about
Never give a speech about something you have absolutely no idea about or something you have no passion for.
Speeches, like all forms of writing, come from the heart. You won’t be able to emotionally or intellectually connect with the audience if you don’t have 100% of your mind, heart, and soul in it. If you have noticed the speeches given by Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Mahatma Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., they are still as powerful today because they wrote it and delivered it straight from the heart.
Prepare for the worst
I’m not saying that something bad is going to happen, but it doesn’t hurt to prepare for the worst.
First, you might freeze. Relax and think of happy thoughts. Remember that everyone is here to listen to what you have to say, and they have absolutely no idea what it is you’re going to say.
Second, you forget your speech mid-stream. Never memorize your speech. Just familiarize yourself with it. That way you can make segues and anecdotes to fill out spaces you forgot. If it helps, make cue cards with only the important points written down to help you continue when you get stuck.
Work with the audience
You’re giving this speech for the audience to benefit. Speeches, nowadays, are interactive and usually get the audience to respond to questions thrown at them by speakers. So, do that. It will get you less terrified and more acquainted with your audience. Plus, it’ll make your audience seem less bored and more interested in what you’re talking about.
Don’t give long speeches
A normal person’s attention span is only about 15 minutes. After that, the brain gets bored, so attention is put on more stimulating activities – like texting. The longest possible speech you can give is about 7 minutes long. But, if you do plan to make it that long, make sure it runs even shorter. That way you’ll have time to ‘talk’ with your audience. I mean this in a way that you won’t have to rush when you talk, which will make your speech incomprehensible.
Use your body language properly
Most people won’t remember what it is you said, but they will remember what you did on stage. So, don’t fidget or show signs of nervousness. This will only make you seem incompetent. Stand up straight and smile. This will make you seem more confident and open to the audience. Never hide behind the podium. Work the stage because it’s yours to work with. The audience spans the whole room not only the people in front of you.
- Written by Bianca
- Edited and posted by Sekar