Making a Great Speech!

So…this may be of interest to you: the two top fears of modern man are death and public speaking! And some say, “If I die, then I won’t have to give that speech!” Can you imagine that sickness, snakes and nuclear devastation are beaten on the fear-factor scale by public speaking?  If you’re one of the souls who say that giving a speech is worse than pulling teeth, then this article’s for you. Here are some tips that I hope will help you through your next speech:

  1. Preparation is key. You know the adage: “If you fail to prepare….” In preparing to speak before an audience, consider who will be in attendance. Ensure that your message speaks directly to them; that your vocabulary and sentence construction is with them in mind. I’ve seen politicians go to schools as the featured speaker for a function and totally lose their audience, with the poor children trying to stay awake. Know your audience.
  2. Under the same point of preparation, knowing your topic is also of utmost importance. Never, ever, ever try to speak about something on which you have little or no knowledge. This is because audiences can easily spot discomfort when it comes to someone who is speaking on an alien topic. Also, if there is a Question-and- Answer segment at the end of your speech…well, you’ll be out to sea. When speakers aren’t comfortable with their topic or haven’t prepared enough, this also causes them to read directly from the script, which can cause audience disconnect. Which brings us to number three…
  3. You don’t have to write every single word. Some speakers use notes as a crutch and never look at the audience to make eye contact or put them at ease. Notes can actually be a hindrance. Using bullet points is a good way to ensure that you maintain a conversational tone with listeners, while using your own words but still ensuring that you get the important points across.  If you’re responsible for writing your own speech, construct it in a comprehensive way. Some speakers can go all over the ball park without hitting the ball. Remember writing an essay in high school? Introduction, body, conclusion. It’s the same with a speech.
  4. Don’t try to be funny if you’re not a natural at telling jokes. This one’s quite funny! While humour is a very good tool to disarm audiences and make them feel comfortable, if you’re not a joke teller, don’t bother with the humour part of the speech. Think about it: if you’re already nervous and then you tell a bad joke and the audience doesn’t laugh, won’t you become even more nervous? When in doubt, leave it out!
  5. Shine! In an everyday setting, your personality is surely magnificent. So, don’t let a bit of nerves outshine you. While it’s very natural to become nervous, remember that you have total control over your emotions. Acknowledge them but never embrace them. You’ve got this! The longest possible speech you can give in business is usually 90 minutes. Think of it in the grand scheme of things…and knock it out of the park!

Lots of love & good vibes, Veoma Ali

Veoma Ali is an Advertising Executive, with a Ph.D in Communications and a Masters in Business Administration.