Preparing a Speech or Presentation

Speaking or giving a presentation in front of an audience can be pretty daunting. Being well prepared will help you manage your nerves and ensure you’re delivering the right message in the right way.

With years of experience in helping people fine tune their speech-writing skills, I’ve developed a list of tips and tricks to help you overcome your fears and deliver a fantastic speech. These proven methods will soon have your audience hanging on your every word...

Preparation – the basics

For anything to be a real success, preparation is key – so firstly, let’s take a quick look at some basic tips that will help you to craft your speech and ensure an effective delivery:

1. Organise your speech – follow the S-M-E principle, breaking your speech down into a start, middle and end.

2. Write your speech – creating a physical script gives you the opportunity to change things around, while also providing a solid reference for practicing your delivery.

3. Clothing – it’s important to look professional, but make sure you feel comfortable too.

4. Visual aids – these can help the audience to understand what’s being said and reinforce the points of a speech in a unique and interesting way. Make sure they fit well with the content of your speech, whether that’s funny, serious, or technical. It’s also important you don’t overcrowd them with text, which can be overwhelming and distracting for your audience to focus on whilst you deliver your speech.

5. Practice, practice, practice – rehearse your speech as much as you possibly can, either in front of friends or a mirror. Focus on the speed of delivery and use a timer to help you pace your speech. Don’t rush through it, breath and use pauses to let the audience soak in the points you’re making.

6. Familiarise yourself with the venue – once you get to the event, check the stage or the setting where the speech will take place, getting a sense of the size of the space and where any steps or obstacles might be, as well as where to enter and exit. This will help you feel more relaxed once you take to the stage.

Selecting your topic

Two of the most common questions I hear from people I help are:

● What subjects can I talk about in my speech?

● How do I choose what I’m going to say?

There are two key places you can find material: through personal experience or reference material.

A speech that references on personal life experiences are a great way to deliver a speech with more conviction and enthusiasm, as you’re bound to feel more connected to it – helping your audience to respond more positively.

● You can draw on your interests: Sports. Hobbies, Travel, Entertainment

● Or your career: Business processes. Ethics, Investments, Retirement

● Or even your family: Ancestors, Child-rearing insights, Marriage, Divorce, Traditions

If you choose to use references from elsewhere, you have an unlimited number of ideas at your fingertips from the internet, or you can visit your local public library. You’ll discover a great deal of inspiration from websites, news outlets, university research papers, medical sites, Google Trend reports, books, magazines, economic trends, human-interest stories, scientific discoveries, entertainment and more! The possibilities of what you could do a speech on are endless, especially if you see it as an opportunity to teach your audience about something new! (Just be careful that you’re not infringing on anybody’s copyright.)

Now you’ve got some ideas for finding inspiration for your speech subject and getting yourself well prepared for its delivery, read my blog on organising and opening your presentation where I dive into the next steps.

Join us as a guest at a meeting to find out how Toastmasters can help you. We meet every second and fourth Tuesday of the month.

Phil Heath

Treasurer and Found Member of Strictly Speaking Harrogate Toastmasters

About Phil

Phil Heath – DTM As a trainer/consultant in International Standards, Phil visited many countries in the last few years. Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, every time he left the country there was a riot, a bombing, or an invasion! Phil joined Toastmasters in 2003 and has the honour of being a twice Distinguished Toastmaster. Before Phil became a professional speaker he was a trainer and sales consultant for many companies. As philthefunnel he now coaches organisations and individuals in the art of presentations with a focus on confident communication.

Phil Heath – Creating Confidence with Communication

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