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Whether giving the Best Man Toast at your friend’s wedding reception or motivating colleagues to hit quarterly sales goals at you company’s annual conference, delivering a great speech is a difficult but crucial skill to master. Next time you find yourself in the spotlight, follow these simple tips to bring down the house:
1. Get Organized. Write down everything you want to say, then read over the rough draft of your speech with the following questions in mind: Does it flow naturally? Is it interesting? Does it make sense and stay on topic? Did I convey the appropriate message to my audience? Revise until the answer to all of these questions is “yes,” then organize your material on notecards. Use bold or multicolored headings to indicate the topic covered on each card, and flesh-out your headings using bullet-points instead full sentences – this will force you to memorize your material instead of reading from the cards.
2. Practice Makes Perfect. It may seem obvious, but practicing is the easiest and most effective way to make sure your speech goes smoothly. Using your notecards, read through your material in different environments – in front of the mirror, while walking around your neighborhood, to a group of friends or family members – and focus on eliminating filler words like “um” and “like,” which audiences can find distracting. Pay close attention to your body language – specifically your posture and what your hands are doing while you speak – and how fast you’re talking; nerves generally make people speak faster than normal, so practicing at a slow speed will help establish an acceptable tempo for when you finally find yourself in front of the microphone. [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Tip: Need help memorizing? Record yourself reading your speech, then listen to the recording while driving to work – auditory learners, especially, will benefit from this technique.]
3. Embrace The Silence. For most of us, a quiet room – even one full of our peers – can be a terrifying thing, but experienced public speakers know that silence can be a powerful ally. Try this: begin your speech with 3-5 seconds of silence – this will immediately command attention from your audience, and help to establish your presence in the room. Don’t be afraid to pause for a few seconds between topics or notecards, too; this will give your listeners a chance to process what you have to say.
4. Lead With An Anecdote: A story or joke is the perfect way to “hook” your audience, and making the audience laugh is a great way to build your confidence while in front of the crowd. For business speakers, a personal story – especially one that shows your humility through comical self-deprivation – will always get your speech off on the right foot, and telling an embarrassing story about the bride or groom is a great way to win over family members at wedding receptions. Just remember, the best stories or jokes are usually short, on-topic, and audience appropriate; if you think something might offend, best to avoid it.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]