Delivering A Memorable Speech
Did you know that speaking in public is one of the greatest fears for many people? So, if you are frightened to stand-up before an audience, let me tell you that you are not alone.
So what is your fear about? You probably know what you are going to say and you are relaxed and confident when you are talking around a table with your friends or colleagues. But it is at that moment when you stand up and get to your feet that you become tongue-tied and nervous, perhaps even forgetting what you have been rehearsing. Many people are so worried about speaking before others that they will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid it. It is just at moments such as these that you wish you had some tips for speeches up your sleeve.
Of course, being on the platform is certainly high-risk because you are the focus of attention. Everyone is watching you expectantly, as well as automatically judging your appearance, your body language as well as your words.
No great speech just happens! All the famous orators of our time, Martin Luther King, Barack Obama or Winston Churchill, may have had different styles, but it was the way in which they made their words come to life that inspired and motivated their audiences.
We are told that Margaret Thatcher even used a voice coach from the National Theatre in London to help lower her shrill tone to one that was deeper and more authoritaTIVE.
If you listen to Martin Luther King’s famous speech ‘I have a dream’, you will hear him repeating certain phrases time and again for greater impact as his passion is transmitted to his audience.
There are many techniques that will help you to deliver a great speech and here are some of our favourites:
1. Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!
There are no short cuts to this one and if you think a best man speech or a groom speech is going to take you a half a day to prepare, the chances are that you may need to double this! Your wedding speech needs to have a beginning [opener], a middle and an end [close].
2. Smile And Engage
As you stand up in front of the microphone, everyone will be looking at you, so smile and look around the whole room. Where you will be standing is your stage and you need to take ownership of it – much as an actor looks stage-left, centre-stage and stage-right, so must you when you engage with your audience.
3. Use A Well-Rehearsed ‘Opener’
Practice makes perfect. If you know exactly what you are going to say as soon as you open your mouth, it will give you an inner confidence. Then, by the time it is appropriate to move onto the middle section of your speech, your adrenaline will probably have taken over and you will feel back in control. Your ‘opener’ can comprise a question, a story or a quotation. Remember you want to grab your audience’s attention so think about this one very carefully.
4. Repeat Your Words For Emphasis
This is ‘really, really’ important and will reinforce your words in the mind of your audience.
5. Voice Tonality
Your voice needs to go up and down so that you bring expression to what it is that you are saying. Never speak in a monotone unless you want your audience to fall asleep! Use your voice to attract your audience so that they actually listen to what you are saying.
This technique is one that takes practice but is one that makes all the difference. When you read a book, it has commas, full stops, and paragraph breaks. It should be the same with your speech. Pauses, used correctly, will give you and your audience time to reflect on and absorb what has been said.
There are many, many more tools that comprise the public speaking skill set but the above hopefully will give you a greater idea of what it takes to stand up on the platform and deliver your speech with style and impact.
You may not win an Oscar for your performance but you may well deliver a speech that your audience will love and remember for all the right reasons.
Good luck and we hope our tips for speeches will help you!
Carole’s Top 10 Tips
- Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!
- Your speech should have a strong structure
- Check room and AV equipment in advance of standing up
- Smile and look around the room at your audience
- Start with impact: memorise your opener
- Don’t allow yourself to be distracted
- Act out your speech: energy is contagious
- Relive your memorable stories
- Make sure your voice goes up and down
- Make sure your speech has a strong close