There's one pesky little cliché that seems to stick around. It's said that people fear public speaking more than they fear death. This means that the average person is more afraid of delivering the eulogy at a funeral than being the person in the casket. Giving a speech can indeed be very intimidating.
Let's break free from the mold, strap on a layer of confidence, and deliver award-winning and life-changing speeches? With these six tips for giving a great speech, you'll be one step closer to standing before that crowd and proclaiming your truth without a wrinkle of fear.
It won't surprise you that the first tip deals with your first few lines. Introducing yourself and your topic is, perhaps, one of the most crucial elements of your speech. This is your opportunity to hook the crowd into your words and encourage them to think, "I want to hear what this person has to say."
To better understand the importance of the hook, here's an in-depth article on How to Write a Hook.
Think about how you want to introduce your topic. Will you start with a short narrative? Will you pose a question? Will you make a striking or controversial statement that you'll have to support throughout your speech?
If you're wondering how to start a speech, here's an example of a great hook by Sir Ken Robinson. Schools are supposed to foster creativity and nurture growth. But, the impetus for this TED Talk video is, "Do schools kill creativity?" It's an interesting spin with an interesting opening, one to keep in mind as you formulate your own.
If you're well-versed in the English language or a particular field, your vocabulary is probably quite impressive. Still, save that for the white papers and ebooks. When delivering a speech, you always want to speak to the guest in the room with the least knowledge. This will keep your language at an appropriate level that everyone can understand.
If you're trying to persuade the audience on a particular topic, you especially want to remain simplistic in your choice of words. Then, there will be little to no confusion as they try to make up their minds. If persuasion is your goal, then these Steps for Writing a Persuasive Speech will help you keep your message clear and your power to influence strong.
Now here's a tough one. One of the golden rules of public speaking is to avoid "uhs" and "umms," yet we're all prone to doing it. The best advice is simply to choose the millisecond of dead silence over an "uhh" or "umm" when you're searching for your words.
Those little fillers become highly distracting to the audience. In fact, as your speech progresses, those fillers start to stand out more and more.
One of the best ways to prevent your mind from running off course is to prepare a thorough outline. You don't want too many words on the outline because you should avoid standing up there and simply reading things verbatim. But, what might help is a keyword outline. Take a look at these Keyword Outline Examples. Tailor one to your next speech.
If we could have, we would have added three more "practices" to that heading. You simply cannot deliver a well-thought-out, organized, confident, and coherent speech if you haven't practiced. How will you know if your timing is right? How will you know if your speech follows a logical flow?
Better yet, the more you practice, the better your delivery will be. And isn't that the goal? You want a smooth delivery and a clear message that the audience will absorb. The only way to achieve that goal is to practice until you've nearly got the whole thing memorized. Practice in front of a mirror or, better yet, with a friend or colleague.
This is another tip that sounds too good to be true. The truth is, absolutely nobody in that crowd needs to know you're nervous except yourself. How could they know? They can't read your mind. And you're going to be well-prepared and able to push through the temptation to use fillers. So, who's going to know you're nervous?
It's certainly not a good idea to start off with, "I'm so nervous." Then, you've just proclaimed your nervousness and (possibly) compounded it. Instead, walk up there knowing you've rehearsed really well and have a great message to share with the audience.
If possible, step out from behind the podium. A little bit of movement in your speech will help the energy in the room stay alive. Eye contact is absolutely paramount when delivering a speech.
So, as you move around, pick a person to look at every few seconds. Strive to reach the people all the way in the back of the room. If they feel engaged by you, they're more likely to continue listening to you.
Without faith, no outline, no topic, no research, and no PowerPoint presentation will be enough. You simply must have faith in yourself, your delivery, and your topic. Be brave, even if you have to fake it. After all, no one in the crowd will know you're nervous, right?
After you've survived the realm of public speaking, when you return to the world of writing, check out some of our articles on persuasive writing. Here's the low-down on Persuasive Essay Writing Made Easy. Good luck out there! Change the world, one person at a time.