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How to Give a Great Speech in 3 Easy Steps

Posted on: August 27th, 2012 by eliteflyers.com No Comments

There are many things the average person would rather do than write and/or perform a speech. Among them might be activities like holding onto an electric fence while standing in a puddle and wearing copper shoes, and receiving root canal surgery without anesthesia in front of an audience consisting of all the pretty girls in your high school class. But sometimes in life, we have no choice. People get married and have the nerve to ask us to be the best men or bridesmaids… and speak publicly at their weddings. Also, the good fortune of having a job sometimes comes with the misfortune of having to talk to a huge room of people… otherwise known as giving a speech.

We don’t think speech-giving has to be as scary as you fear. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of steps to follow to make your speech experience as painless and as effective as possible. For illustration purposes, we’re going to pretend you need to give a speech about your company’s performance over the last year, and that your audience consists of all the people in your company, from the founder and CEO to the guy who stocks the tampon machines.

Step 1: Decide what you want to say.

This “getting started” step may be the hardest to take, simply because it’s the first. But once you do it, everything else will be easy… kind of. Make an outline of every key point you want to make in your speech. Keep it positive. It may look something like this:

Company X’s Performance, 2012

  • Intro:
  • Tell story of when I first met boss and that funny thing he said to me (joke)Printing Magazines
  • Body:
  • Remark on how competitors’ numbers were down last year; ours were up
  • Launched several new products, one of which was featured in Market X Magazine
  • Single out and congratulate each of the employees primarily responsible for the innovations
  • Congratulate the entire company for supporting each initiative in their unique ways
  • Acknowledge and thank employees who have been with the company the longest
  • Conclusion:
  • Remember John Doe, who passed away a few months ago
  • Thank Jane Doe for that wild Christmas party she organized; encourage Jake Smith to wear better-fitting pants to avoid a similar accident next year (joke)
  • Encourage everyone to dig even deeper this year to increase success and profit for everyone

Step 2: Practice

You may or may not decide to write down every word of your speech; probably an outline like the one above, backed by specific statistics and names where appropriate, will be enough. But now comes the time to practice. Give your speech to yourself in front of the mirror. If you feel like an idiot, good. Get it out of your system now so you don’t have to feel like an idiot later. Time the speech from start to finish, and see how long it is. If it is longer than you would like it to be, trim the fat. Everyone knows there are few worse things in this world than a long-winded speech.

Once you have mastered giving your speech to the man in the mirror, take it to your spouse, your best friend, the bum on the corner… basically anyone who will listen. Ask them to point out anything that can be improved. Ask them if you say “umm” a lot, rock back and forth, or exhibit other nervous ticks. If they say you do, practice more to work out the kinks. Most people are nervous when they give speeches because they are not prepared. By practicing a lot, you will be prepared and you will not be nervous.

Step 3: Perform

Now it’s time to deliver the goods… er, the speech, rather. First thing to do is look into the audience and find a friendly face you can focus on for the majority of your speech. Probably most everyone wants you to do a good job on this speech, but attaching to one person you can count on to make eye contact with you throughout will keep your confidence high.

Next, begin. It’s always good to start your speech with a personal anecdote or joke, because you will get everyone on your team right away, and it will boost your confidence for the whole shebang.

Then, as you progress, check your pace. Don’t go too fast, or you will send the message that what you are saying is not important. But don’t go too slowly either, or you will bore your audience to tears. If your audience looks bored, break your plans and tell another personal story – their attention will perk up again right away. When you’re done, come back and follow the outline on your notepad or card again. Try not to lean on those “umms,” nervous hand gestures, or shifts from foot to foot to pacify your nervousness. Stand confident, look confident, and you will find that you are confident.

You’re going to give a great speech.

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