Whether you are pitching a new idea to your boss, or have to hold a presentation during the next company meeting, giving a good speech can be a challenge – but it is a skill you can master, and we are going to tell you how.
Speaking in front of people where all the attention is directed towards you can be a very scary thing, especially when there is a lot depending on how you give that speech. A good speech can make a great change in your career, or a project you are working on, it can even win you a job, while a bad one can make you smaller in the eyes of your audience (that may consist of your current or potential employers and/or associates).
A good speaker knows that the most important thing when giving a speech is to deliver a clear message, that is relevant to the audience, and give illustrating examples to support your claims. However, you should not only communicate what YOU want to say, but think about what your audience wants to hear and how you can deliver the message in such a way that your audience can relate to it. A speech also needs to be clear and simple, as according to Nick Morgan, a contributor for the Forbes magazine, “People don’t remember much of what they hear”. This means making sure that you have a clear beginning, middle and end, focusing on what is important and eliminating the irrelevant. The structure is very important, as well as the strength of your narrative, so make sure you prepared well.
This all might seem confusing, but it is actually relatively easy to learn and in time you can become a great speaker.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
First, they don’t say “practice makes perfect” for no reason. Going to a speech unprepared is a big no-no. The founder of a 20-year old company that specializes in speech, presentation and media training, Jane Praeger, suggests practicing your speech beforehand, whether it’s in the shower while you are alone, or (even better) in front of a small audience. If you decide to practice with an audience, choose the people who are trustworthy and are looking for your best interest, because you need someone who will tell you what you are doing wrong (and there is always something, especially if you are a beginner).
Moreover, when having to speak publicly to deliver some bad news, don’t just state the facts, as that might get the people down. Instead, think about which way of delivering those news would be appropriate, so their morale stays up and they don’t get completely discouraged. Always try to bring out the positive side of everything and show a silver lining of every difficult situation.
- Don’t Read
Next, don’t just read your speech from the cards you prepared, or from a PowerPoint presentation. Speak in your own words, and deliver the message in your own way – that is how you will attract the attention of your audience. If you are reading through the entire speech, you might seem unprofessional, unprepared and dishonest, and nobody likes that sort of people. Also, don’t write your points in your PowerPoint presentation; only use illustrations that will help you prove your points or raise the attention of the people listening to you. Maybe you don’t even need the audiovisual aids, and everything you have to say can be done with just your words and body language. Certainly avoid using presentations if they don’t contribute to your speech, and never use someone else’s prepared presentation – that way it won’t have anything personally relatable to you and you will present it without the passion you would probably have if you prepared it yourself.
- Show Enthusiasm
Another important thing you can do to make sure your speech will be successful is to bring the energy! Use gesticulations, don’t hide behind the lectern but instead move across the stage, make eye contact and engage your audience. This will surely increase your chances of creating a better effect and making a better impression – achieving better results. And what could really contribute to your speech is giving examples from your personal experience. This causes emotional appeal in your audience, which means that they will remember what you’ve said for a longer time and take what you’ve said more seriously. For example, in the TV show Mad Men, an advertising executive presents Kodak (a company that produces cameras) by sharing his family photos made with that camera, and providing such a personal example really went in his favor – he signed the contract with the company.
Taylor Mali, a former teacher and a public motivational speaker spoke about his public speaking techniques and success for BBC, and during his interview he said – “Part of giving a good speech is to find the emotion that it deserves…, your audience deserves to see the freshest version of the performance you can give”. This is especially true if you are covering the same topic more than once. You should always try to keep things fresh and engage your audience – never let your speech become boring to you or your listeners. To achieve that, you will surely need to work on your technique, but when you master the art of public speaking, new horizons will open for you and you will have better control over your professional and personal sphere of life.