Most people hate public speaking. In fact, several surveys have shown that many people would rather face death than an audience of their peers. Unfortunately, speeches are a fact of life for a lot of careers. Here are some tips to help you give a successful speech:
- Plan your speech ahead of time
- Think about the context
- ‘What do I want to achieve?’
- research, select and present appropriate subject matter
- What does the audience expect?
- What does the audience need?
- What does the audience already know?
- Use appropriate language
- Structure your speech logically
- Listen to other people speak – what could you emulate? What should you avoid?
- Adapt your style to suit your audience (eg Avoid sexual innuendo around conservatives, don’t expect a grade 2 class to understand your Beatles joke)
- Be aware of cultural expectations (eg thanking traditional land owners)
- Dress appropriately
- Use a clear voice, with varying pitch, pace and volume
- Use the stage – move about
- Use gestures (but keep your hands still in between
- Give every movement meaning (otherwise stay still)
- Be sparing with jargon
- Establish eye contact (but don’t creepily stare at just one person)
- Use humour
- Speak slowly and clearly – what seems a normal pace to you can feel like Speedy Gonzales to your audience
- Pauses are your friend
- When using visual aids, remember that whatever means you use to support or illustrate your talk, they must be:
- integrated carefully so as to not disrupt the flow of the talk
- easy to use, display or circulate
- explained clearly.
- Stick to the time limit
- Conclude with a summary in order to remind people what you spoke about
- Remember to thank the audience
- Practice, practice, practice!
What are your thoughts?