Public speaking is one of those tasks that make some people cower in fear. Giving a speech is something most people will have to do at some point in their careers. With a little planning and practice, you can learn how prepare and how to deliver a speech – and you might even enjoy it!
Plan, Write, Practice – that is the basic blueprint of what is needed.
Plan – Take a few minutes and gather your thoughts. Ask yourself the following questions:
- WHO is the audience?
- WHAT is the primary message.
- WHY has everyone gathered?
- WHEN is the speech?
While writing a speech, it is important to view the information from the audience’s point of view. Start at the ground floor and build your way up – begin with explaining what the speech is for. The easiest way for to do this is to write a speech outline. If the purpose of your speech is to cover three items, break your outline up into three sections. For example, when giving a recognition speech, we divided it into the following three sections: the progress of the recognition program, the positive results to date, and finally the award winners. You’ll have the speech written before you know it.
The next step is to simplify your speech. Do not bring a three-page speech printed out and read it line by line. Practice the speech and begin committing it to memory. Let the speech outline be your guide, but use your practice and memory to give the speech. Don’t worry if you miss a word from the paper – the audience will never know.
Once you have rehearsed the speech several times, you undoubtedly have had time to think about visuals. What will help communicate the message? Perhaps it is a slide show of the incentive, a chart/graph of improvement, or a picture of each of the happy teams working well together. A well-organized set of visuals will enhance your presentation. When rehearsing your speech, ask yourself what visuals are in your head, and what would help the audience best understand your messaging.
Finally, it is crucial to keep practicing your speech. Once the speech is rehearsed enough to work from an outline, begin to practice making eye contact, looking around the room, and using gestures to help convey the message. If possible, book some time in the room where you will actually give the speech. Allow yourself to become accustomed to the larger area, the layout, and the podium.
With enough practice, giving a speech will be as natural as breathing.