Making Speeches

Making Speeches

  • Are you afraid to speak in front of a group?

  • Do you avoid situations where you might have to speak in public?

  • Do you sometimes have something you want to say, but are too shy to speak?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you should try to improve your speaking skills.

Speaking in public is a skill that anyone can learn, and just like any skill, it’s something you get better at with practice.

Being a confident speaker will help you succeed in school, in your career, and in your personal life. Being able to express yourself in front of a group is a skill that will be an asset throughout your life!

“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Preparing Your Speech

To deliver an effective speech, you must first have content worth listening to. You then need to be able to present the material with confidence.

Writing your speech

  • Understand the assignment. Is the purpose of the speech to inform, persuade, or demonstrate? How long does your speech need to be?

  • If you have a choice, chose a topic you’re familiar with or a subject you want to learn more about.

  • Think about your audience. How much do they know about the subject? What information will they find the interesting and useful?

Have a strong beginning and ending

  • Begin with something that will get everyone’s attention – a personal story, a humorous quote, or an interesting statistic.

  • End with a thought-provoking story, quick summary, quote, or question.

Use props

When possible, use props. Props give you something to look at and something to do with your hands. You can also put notes on the back on your props. If you have a PowerPoint presentation, keep the text to a minimum and avoid reading the text directly.

Prepare note cards

While note cards will help you keep your speech on track, you should know your speech well enough that you don’t need to look at your note cards very often.

Write key words and phrases large enough so that a quick glance will provide you with the memory cue you need.

Practice, practice, practice

The more you practice, the better your delivery will be. Here’s how to get the most out of your practice time.

  • Once you can deliver the content without any major errors, improve your delivery by adding inflection, enthusiasm, and hand gestures.

  • Practice your speech in front of a mirror, imaging the audience in front of you.

  • Give your speech to family or friends. Ask them to give you feedback on content, pace, tone, etc.

  • Record or videotape your speech. Look for ways to improve it and then record or videotape it again.

  • Practice talking slowly, speaking clearly, and putting pauses between ideas and sections. Time your speech to make sure it’s the correct length.

  • To help you get off to a good start, memorize the first few lines of your speech word for word.

Tips for Overcoming Anxiety

If you are afraid of speaking in public, you’re not alone. Most people list public speaking as one of their top ten fears. There’s even a name for this fear - glossophobia

Most public speakers get a little nervous, before a speech. That’s to be expected. However, if you get overly anxious, these tips may help you.

  • Adequate preparation is the best way to reduce anxiety. Practice our speech over and over. Rehearse it in front of others, and record or videotape yourself. Practice, practice, practice.

  • Visualize success. In the days before you give your speech, visualize yourself being relaxed and confident, successfully delivering your speech to an appreciative audience.

  • Before you get up to speak, take a deep breath and let your body relax.

  • If you make a mistake or stumble, don’t worry about it, and don’t comment on it.  Just go on. What may seem like a big error to you will hardly be noticed by your audience. And remember, no one expects you to be perfect.

  • Congratulate yourself for what you do well, and know that with every speech, you will get even better.

 “There are two kinds of speakers. Those that are nervous and those that are liars.” ~ Mark Twain