September 2, 2006
Tips on Giving a Good Speech
Whether you're a novice or an accomplished speaker, everyone is looking for fresh tips and ideas on giving a good speech. Since we figured you're no different, we've worked hard to compile a list of practical tips, tricks and advice to help turn the shy, quiet speaker into a confident, animated crowd pleaser. All you have to do is enter into this willing to grow and change into a better, me effective public speaker.
So, without any further ado, let's buckle down and delve into the tips and tricks of public speaking pros!
Prior to speaking, learn the needs of your audience and prepare your content to see that those needs are met (or at the very least, heightened to the point of action.)
Prepare yourself to the point that you now and are comfortable with what you'll say and where you'll need notes little, if at all. Be ready to make divergences or changes if an earlier speaker has already covered a point that you intended to make.
Structure the content of your speech according to a logical, understandable order. Examples include most important to least important, least important to most important, chronological order and reverse chronological order, just to name a few.
Whenever possible, take the time to practice in front of a mirror (a mini-audience) as well as record your speech on a tape-recorder and listen to it, looking for places to pause or where one word might be better suited being changed to another. Remember, your speech needs to be written for the ear, not for the eye. It also needs to be written to be understood by even the simplest of people on a basic level. Don't try to dazzle.
Identify both the strong and weak points of your speech or presentation. Take advantage of opportunities to emphasize your strengths while downplaying your weaknesses.
Remember that, to an audience, perception IS reality. Then, present yourself accordingly. Pay attention to your choice of clothing, dress not too casually, and not too formally. Consider your facial expression, gestures, as well as any distracting mannerisms you might have.
Match your mood to your content. If you're speaking on a somber or solemn topic or subject, don't grin like a mischievous kid. On the same note, if you're speaking on a bright or optimistic message, don't sit around with a drawn expression or using a monotone.
Pay attention to the speed at which you speak. If you talk too slowly, you're in danger of boring your audience or causing them to doubt your competence or intelligence. On the other hand, speaking too quickly makes it too easy to lose your message in a string of quick words and phrases that they don't have the time to even comprehend. Shoot for the middle ground, it's safer there!
Pay close heed to what your body language is saying and make sure that your non-verbal communication is in line with your overall message.
Take full advantage of audio and/or visual aids or other props that can be used to enhance or exemplify what you're sharing. Possibilities include PowerPoint presentations, flip charts, graphs, overhead projectors, digital media and more.
However, any time you chose to use a prop or aid, make sure that you're choosing it for the right reasons. Does it support your speech or does it just look (or sound) good. It should be your ultimate goal to have any props or aids meet both criteria.
Don't even think about trying to convince your audience to accept as true an opinion you don't actually believe yourself. A good speech can only occur if you spread your message with faith and conviction.
If you must use notes during your speech or presentation, prepare them in such a way that you don't have to read from them for any extended amount of time. This may mean that you should restrict your notes to an outline, or just key points you plan to illustrate.
Make (and maintain) eye contact with individual members of your audience. Seek out smiling, friendly faces and speak directly to those people. Be sure to make eye contact with several different audience members and work your eyes (and smiles) around the room.
Never underestimate the power of the pause. Pauses provide both you and your audience with a moment to think and reflect upon what was just said. Pauses are also important ways to underscore humor or new facts or information.
Know when to shut up. As silly as it may sound, far too many speakers don't know when (or how) to conclude their messages. Some make the mistake of droning and ambling long past the stopping point. Others will end too early, without summarizing and reviewing the highlights of the presentation. Don't make the same mistake. Know when to end, and then do it!
While this is hardly an encyclopedic gathering of tips for effective public speaking, if you follow these tips on giving good speeches, you should notice an improved participation and encouragement from your new audiences. Look for new ways that you can better serve those who come to you looking for advice and guidance. You never know when you'll wind up making the most amazing impact imaginable, all with a little learning and a lot of practice!Speaking and Speeches Resources