If you’ve been asked to give a speech to a substantial audience, preparing it can be quite daunting. You don’t want your speech to fall flat and not go over well with the people hearing it.
A good speech is not made off-the-cuff or written at the last minute. You should avoid this practice unless you’re put in a position where you have no choice. Generally, you will know that you’re giving a speech well-ahead of time.
Here are some pointers for ensuring your speech is a hit:
Have this information at hand before you start writing your speech:
- Who is the audience?
- Are they knowledgeable about the topic or not?
- Is it a formal occasion or a more informal gathering?
All these factors will help you determine the nature of your speech and what information you plan to impart. Brainstorm topic ideas before settling on the content and how you’re going to approach it. Organize the material into a logical order. Then you’re ready to start writing.
- Make it look professional
When you’ve written your speech, print it out in a large font. If you lose your place, you need to find it quickly. Otherwise, you’ll lose the attention of the audience. Don’t read from a set of folded papers in your pocket that you take out when you start speaking.
Dog-eared pages don’t represent the aura of professionalism you want to convey—use a presentation folder. Better still, approach a folder printing company to make unique capacity folders with your organization’s logo. They make you look prepared and organized, and are a great way to package additional materials for your audience to take away.
- Open well
A good speech grabs the audience’s attention and keeps it. If your first line is dull and dry, people will turn their attention to their phones instead.
Ask the audience a question you’re going to answer during the speech. The question can be something that reaches the context of the listeners. For example, start with, “Have you wondered why/thought about/experienced…?” Immediately, people can relate and are interested to hear what you have to say.
Once your speech is written, memorize as much of it as you can. Now you’re ready to start practicing. Say the speech to a mock audience or in front of a mirror. You need to be familiar with the contents of your speech. When the day comes, no one will take you seriously if you’re reading the speech word-for-word. If you must read from notes, read it with pride.
There is a vast difference between reading a text and saying a speech. When you’re reading, your head is down, and you make minimal eye contact with the audience. If you’re saying a speech, the opposite is true. You should only refer to your notes occasionally. This is easy when you know your speech well.
- Tone and body language
Your speech aims to engage the audience and share knowledge with them. A lot of your success depends on how well you carry yourself. It’s normal to feel nervous when you’re about to say a speech. The pressure of having everyone’s attention on you is intense.
Concentrate on the following aspects of saying a speech:
- Make variable eye contact. Don’t speak only to one person or look at the wall at the back of the room. Move your eyes around the room so that everyone feels they’re being addressed.
- Avoid a monotonous or singsong voice. Vary your tone as it maintains the audience’s attention.
- Exude an air of confidence on the outside even when you’re terrified on the inside. It makes you look more credible in your knowledge on the topic.