The thought of speaking in front of a large crowd can send even the most confident person into a mild panic. The dreaded silence as a tumble weed passes by, people clearing their throats instead of laughing out loud and pulling their phones out rather than listening to the speech you’ve been carefully preparing for the last 2 months. I attended a wedding at the weekend and watched the best man deliver a fantastic speech and suddenly thought… “I have to give a speech at an event in a few weeks”! As a (now retired) dancer I have never shied away from the spotlight, but as talking is a bit different to twirling I decided to seek advice on how to deliver a great speech. Here I wanted to share my Top tips to prepare for public speaking:
Choose your topic wisely
You need to be both knowledgeable and passionate about your speech topic so think about this when planning what to say. You need to inject an element of excitement and enthusiasm into your delivery and this should come naturally with something you’re already familiar with.
Plan your speech
Sit down and make notes about what you want to get across in your speech. You should have a clear introduction that sets the tone of the speech as well as a conclusion that will wrap it up nicely. If you’re confident try and add a couple of jokes in – but this obviously depends what the subject and environment is! Keep the pattern simple – you don’t want to get tongue tied!
Make cue cards
Reading from a massive script will surely trip you up, so try and chop your speech down to smaller cue cards to prompt your memory rather than have you staring down at the paper! This will help you make eye contact with the audience as well – an absolute must if you want to engage the crowd!
Try and learn your speech as best as possible so it comes out naturally not rigid. If you can practice to a trusted audience like Friends or Family and failing that use a mirror. You can even film it on your phone and watch it back! The important thing is you rehearse at least a bit!
Take a glass of water
Anxiety can often result in dry throat and the last thing you need is a coughing fit in front of an audience! Make sure you have a glass of water with you and take sips when you need to.
Prepare for hecklers
Now hopefully you won’t be booed off stage but you need to be prepared for interaction or questions. Read through your speech and try and pre-empt where people might interject with questions. Keep your replies friendly such as “Thank you for the great question…” and answer on your feet as best as possible.
Get up on that stage feeling scared and negative then it is bound to come across that way. A positive mind and a few nerves will often give you the boost to deliver an interesting and exciting speech! Keep smiling and a few laughs will go a long way.
Most importantly… Good luck!
Sophie Heaton (Digital Campaign Manager)