Preparing Your Speech
Date: October 3, 2015
Congratulations, you’ve been invited to make a presentation! Give yourself a tap on the back. Now, you’ve got to write some material that is entertaining and makes the audience like you – not the easiest thing in the world, but we’ve devised some tips to help you along the way.
Maybe you have an idea on what to talk about, but have no clue on where to start. Relax and know that everything will be okay. You obviously got booked because you are talented and have a lot of potential.
Get Your Ideas On Paper
There’s something about manually writing things down that clears your head, rather than reaching for a computer. In the centre of the page, write down the topic you want to cover. Everything starts with an idea, and not specifics. The most important thing is that your speech covers a plausible subject that your audience will enjoy and learn something new from.
Next, ask yourself what specifics you want to cover surrounding the topic. The key is to only pick two or three ‘mini-topics’, so you aren’t overloading the audience with too much information. Even if people knew nothing about your topic, they will know something by the end of it. You can aid their learning by structuring your speech – a beginning, middle and end to keep them on track.
The beginning consists of welcoming and thanking everyone for being present, and introducing yourself and your main topic. The middle, is the meaty part – where you’ll go into detail on the main subjects within your topic, and the end is a summary of the key points you want everyone to take home, and of course wish everyone a safe journey home.
Remember It’s For Your Audience
If you’ve chosen to cover a subject that you enjoy and know about, ask yourself what your audience will get from it. Your speech is for them, not for you to showcase what you know. Talks are to motivate, inspire and teach people new ideas, not to give you fame.
Angle everything you say with your audience is mind. Any successful speaker focuses on what their audience want to hear, and researching beforehand about your listeners, will most certainly help you. Because we want to be liked and admired so much, we often want to be the know all of everything and don’t back up our facts. Using specifics and factual information will help your audience to respond positively to your speech… and actually believe what you’re saying.
Remember to make your speech entertaining by speaking to your audience and not at them. Take a human perspective on what you’re covering – the more personal stories you can include, the better! This also means using words everyone can understand. Don’t worry, you won’t be judged if you don’t know big words, but you will get blank stares and appear monogamous if you use words for the sake of looking intelligent. Keep everything simple and succinct.
Have clear messages and resist writing a speech you don’t care about in the first place, because it will show in your body language, tone and facial expressions.
Don’t be afraid of throwing in a little humour to be more likable and approachable. Your presentation doesn’t have to be so serious, but as long as people understand and care about what you’re covering, you don’t have anything to worry about.
If You Use Technology, Don’t Rely On It
Check with the venue for internet connection and plug sockets if you’re planning on taking a laptop to present with. There have been many cases of speakers spending hours on producing a presentation to show up and not have anywhere to plug it.
Even if you have checked with the venue and everything goes perfectly on the day, don’t rely on your presentation to make a point. If you have to watch the screen to find your content, you haven’t rehearsed or planned properly. As mentioned earlier, people want to be spoken to, not at.
Your speech should be just as successful without the presentation slides, than with. They should only be an add on to your content, not the main bulk of it. Only use slides for things like facts and extra information, not for you to read off as a guideline to where you’re up to. This will also prevent the audience becoming distracting by your slides.
Nervous speakers prepare a presentation to avoid eye contact with the audience. That’s why you should practice reading your material through every night leading up to the event. If possible, present in front of your family and friends to get you experienced with the energy of a crowd. Ask for their feedback too.
Use Various Material
A good speech is exciting and uses plenty of material. This comes in the form of facts, personal stories, quotes, humour and seriousness. Keep your audience on edge by switching up your tone and angle constantly. Show that you’re an interesting individual by applying different ideas throughout.
Never save your best material until last, because people may leave, or you may run out of time. Plan everything important you want to say at the beginning in case this happens. But don’t just throw in a conclusion for the sake of it, as everything you cover must add to your speech, and never take away.
Be authentic and passionate at all times to show the audience you care. If you don’t, they won’t. This shows if you open up to them, tell them things they never knew and research your topics with scrutiny.
There has to be a rhythm to your speech to keep people entertained, which is why you must not linger on one point for too long. Pace yourself too so you aren’t rushing too, but equally, don’t speak so slowly that you send people to sleep.
If there’s anything you take away from this article, it’s that everything you do is for your audience – your material, attitude and pace, is all from them. Do this, and you can’t go wrong! And don’t worry yourself too much. People aren’t judging and critiquing you like you think. Nerves are natural, just take some deep breathes and show ’em what you’re made of.