From work events to weddings, family celebrations and life’s other memorable moments, if you need to make a speech we share some great tips to make it your best yet.
Public speaking can be a nerve wracking experience, especially if you have to make a speech. We take you through techniques to help you write and perform your best speech ever.
Planning Your Speech
It’s a good idea to sit down and think about your speech before you commit anything to paper. Consider the following:
- What is the topic? Even if it’s a broad speech for a wedding, try to pick a single, defining topic for the speech.
- What is the purpose of it? Whether you want to demonstrate how kind your daughter is, show the need for a budget increase, or prove that a particular process is best, you need to have a clear objective in mind.
- Who is your audience? Is it a room of professionals at work, friends at an event, your family at a wedding? What do and don’t they know about the subject you’ll be sharing with them?
- What do you need to research? Do you need any evidence to support your main argument, anecdotes to fill the gaps in your memories, or facts for a report? Get them before you start writing.
Writing Your Speech
Now that you know what you want to talk about and why, it’s time to get down to business and write your speech.
- Know the structure. Just like any good essay or argument, a speech is best when it has a clear introduction, a midsection dedicated to your topic, and a decisive conclusion.
- Outline in advance. Make up an outline first, with headings for each part of your structure. List anything you want to cover in bullet points without going into detail. Check over the outline and cut anything that doesn’t add to your purpose.
- Expand the draft. Make each of your bullet points a well-rounded sentence and bear your audience in mind. It can be helpful to think of one specific person you want to address with the speech and write it as if you’re talking to them. This could be your new son-in-law, your CEO, your niece – an attendee who won’t know as much about the topic as you.
- Be memorable. Use the introduction and conclusion to ask a question of the audience, or share a big revelation. It’s especially important to hook people’s attention when you open your speech.
- Emphasise your point. Try including repetition of your key argument, asking rhetorical questions, using metaphors, mentioning the evidence, and employing descriptive, expressive words.
- Read aloud. Speeches always sound different when you read aloud, and it’s an important part of drafting. Stand up and read aloud to yourself from beginning to end. What sounds good, and what needs changed? Is it too long, or too short? Fix the draft and read it again.
The Big Day
No matter how much planning and re-drafting you’ve done, you might still feel nervous before making a speech. Here are some tips you can use to help things go smoothly:
- Speak clearly – imagine you’re speaking to someone at the back of the room, and aim your speech at them.
- Slow down – Though it might be familiar to you, your audience is hearing your speech for the first time. Speak slowly so people can understand you and take it all in.
- Be engaging – move your arms a little, change the pitch of your voice, pause to let people digest information and respond to you, and meet people’s eyes.
- Use props – some people find slides and props to be helpful in speeches. If you use them, make them interesting and relevant, but not distracting or text heavy.
- Learn it – if you’re reading from a piece of paper, you’ll be tempted to hide. Make sure you’ve read the speech aloud lots, memorise it if possible, or have flash cards to help prompt yourself.
- Practice – if you’re really nervous, practice in front of people you trust and get their feedback.
What other tips would you give someone making a speech?