How To Deliver A Speech And Live To Tell About It

We’ve all heard the startling fact – public speaking tops the list of activities people fear most. Even if you never have to take the stage at something as huge as the Republican or Democratic Convention, the challenge of connecting with an audience and getting an enthusiastic response can trigger trepidation in the best of us.

What does it take to deliver a presentation that’s engaging, informative and memorable? Here are some tips on giving a speech that gets your message across without boring the audience to tears or driving you to distraction.

Define your purpose. Every speech should have a clear objective. Are you in it to teach, entertain, persuade, inspire? Maybe it’s some combination. Whatever the goal, it’s important to remember that speeches are most effective at getting across ideas, opinions and emotions. They’re less effective at relaying a large volume of detailed information.

Create a strong opening. The first words uttered by the speaker are like the headline of an ad or the lead paragraph of a letter. Ask a provocative question. Offer a surprising statistic. Share a bold quote to break the ice. A well-crafted opening grabs attention and gets the audience excited about your topic. Avoid the mistake of diving into the meat of your presentation without a hook.

Make a personal connection.  Winning your audience over is all about relevance and humanity. If you want to motivate or influence an audience, pulling back the curtain on your life is a powerful approach. Use a personal story that reveals something about you or your journey to create a connection.

Be conversational. Speeches are meant to be heard, not read – prepare yours to sound like a person talking, not like a white paper or academic thesis. Use short words and sentences. Throw in some slang expressions. Divide the speech into sections and build in places to pause and take a breath. The true test of a conversational speech is to rehearse it out loud. If it doesn’t sound natural, revise until it flows.

Keep it simple. Clear, easy-to-grasp content is the most important part of your presentation. Your audience members are interested in information that impacts them directly. Share enticing tidbits and advice and avoid laying out complex arguments or complicated processes.  They want to learn something new and useful. Your job is to use as few words as possible to convey it.

Follow these reliable speech givers’ guidelines and you’ll have confidence in your content, talk smoothly and with poise, and present information in a way that truly gets your point across. Best of all, you and your audience members will live to tell about it … and look forward to the next time!

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