Giving an Effective Speech
The purpose of a speech is to use rhetorical skills to move an audience to action or a particular belief.
Surveys show public speaking is the number one personal fear in America. But with some planning, preparation and practice, you can be successful.
Printable Microsoft Word Document
The following two forms should help your prepare for your speech:
When a request comes in
Develop and ouline
- Decide on a central message (thesis). This is the focus of your speech. The element around which all your ideas should be constructed.
- Some criteria to follow while developing a central message include:
-Defining your purpose - Is it to - inform or educate? Entertain? Convince or persuade? Stimulate action?
-Keep it simple! If you can't state your thesis in one or two sentences, your topic is too broad.Decide on three to five key points
- Decide on three to five key points.
- Develop supporting evidence for each key point. Include stats, stories and examples.\
- Develop a strong introduction and powerful conclusion.
Write and Rewrite
- Make and immediate connection with the audience. The warm-up is as much for the speaker as it is for the audience. Give yourself time to get comfortable at the podium and get the attention of the audience.
- Provide a "road map" of your remarks. Give the audience and overview of your talking points and how long you will take. For example: "In the next 15 minutes, I will share with you three key steps to..."
- Use a three point checklist to prioritize your information and to make sure you are not giving your audience too much.
Need to know
Nice to know
Don't need to know
- Use conversational language. Speak to the audience as if you speaking to a friend. Use contractions. Avoid acronyms and other occupational jargon. Use short words, short sentences and active verbs. Don't be afraid of sentence fragments, people talk that way.
- Create mental bumper stickers. Use sentences and phrases people will remember. Tell stories, use common quotes, comics, etc.
- Repeat your main points. Do this throughout your speech and again at the end. Use examples, illustrations, comparisons, quotes, statistics, anything to help build a picture in the minds of your audience.
- Prepare for a speech 18-25 minutes in length. Eighteen is preferred. Four minutes for an opening, ten minutes for the body, and four minutes for the close.
- Develop an effective conclusion. You may want to simply restate your thesis or use a short story, well known quote or poem. - something related to the message. Use something related to your message to challenge the audience.
Practice makes Perfect
- Decide on a physical format for your speech. Do you want it written out completely? A few note cards filled with key points? Whichever you choose, use large letter and double or triple space. Do not staple pages together. Number pages. Do not break a thought betweem pages.
- Rehearse your delivery. Do this in front of a mirror, into a video camera or tape recorder. Stand up and visualize the audience in front of you.
- Make the most of visual aids. Research shows that retention of information presented with visual support is 65% after five days, compared to 5% without. Visuals should be bright, clear and large. Do not allow visuals to become a crutch. Always stay focused on the audience.
- Do a room analysis. If possible, go to the room where your speech will be given, prior to the speech. This will help eliminate surprises.
While evaluating the room use the following questions to guide you:
How large is the room?
Will it be possible to use slides, overheads, etc?
Will there be a podium?
What type of microphone is available?
How can the sound system be adjusted?
Where will you be seated before you are introduced?
- Dress appropriately. Wear something comfortable and conservative. Avoid bright white shirts, large jewelry and brass buttons or anything that could cause a distraction.
- Provide a proper introduction. Take a long, prepared bio of yourself for the emcee. It is your responsibility to provide enough information so the audience accepts you as a credible source.
- Stand tall and take deep breaths. Flexing your hands and expanding your ribcage are good ways to settle your nerves. Use the adrenaline to get off to a good start, but do not go too fast.
- Maintain eye contact with the audience. Look for a friendly face at the center of the room and deliver your introduction to that person. Then continually move your gaze around the room, giving each thought to a different person.
- Vary your tone of voice and speed of delivery. Show enthusiasm for your topic with your voice. Do not speak too quietly, too slowly, too loudly or quickly. Do not use verbal fillers such as, "um," "uh," and "you know." Instead, pause silently.
- Use gestures and facial expressions effectively. Smile at the audience. Use hand gestures when appropriate. Between gestures, rest hands at your sides or lightly on the podium. Lean slightly forward. Move away from the podium, if possible.
- Be prepared for questions. Think about the four questions you would like to answer and the four questions you would not like to answer. Prepare short, to the point answers for those eight questions.