Tips for giving a Speech

Most people hate public speaking. In fact, several surveys have shown that many people would rather face death than an audience of their peers. Unfortunately, speeches are a fact of life for a lot of careers. Here are some tips to help you give a successful speech:

  • Plan your speech ahead of time
  • Think about the context
  • ‘What do I want to achieve?’
  • research, select and present appropriate subject matter
  • What does the audience expect?
  • What does the audience need?
  • What does the audience already know?
  • Use appropriate language
  • Structure your speech logically
  • Listen to other people speak – what could you emulate? What should you avoid?
  • Adapt your style to suit your audience (eg Avoid sexual innuendo around conservatives, don’t expect a grade 2 class to understand your Beatles joke)
  • Be aware of cultural expectations (eg thanking traditional land owners)
  • Dress appropriately
  • Use a clear voice, with varying pitch, pace and volume
  • Use the stage – move about
  • Use gestures (but keep your hands still in between
  • Give every movement meaning (otherwise stay still)
  • Be sparing with jargon
  • Establish eye contact (but don’t creepily stare at just one person)
  • Use humour
  • Speak slowly and clearly – what seems a normal pace to you can feel like Speedy Gonzales to your audience
  • Pauses are your friend
  • When using visual aids, remember that whatever means you use to support or illustrate your talk, they must be:
    • integrated carefully so as to not disrupt the flow of the talk
    • easy to use, display or circulate
    • relevant
    • explained clearly.
  • Stick to the time limit
  • Conclude with a summary in order to remind people what you spoke about
  • Remember to thank the audience
  • Practice, practice, practice!
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