10 Tips for Delivering a Great Speech

Speech 300x300Public speaking is the art of delivering a live presentation to a live audience in a structured, deliberate manner in order to inform, influence, or entertain them. What makes this so challenging? The live delivery. For many people, public speaking is as much fun as juggling rattlesnakes.

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death,” quipped Jerry Seinfeld during a stand-up routine. “That means the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Many people with public speaking fears admit they are less petrified of delivering the words in front of a group and more afraid of being negatively criticized by listeners.

No one (living or dead) want to be judged. Frightened or not, an increasing number of reluctant speakers are being called upon at work by their employers to deliver speeches about their areas of expertise. Panicking is not an option. Preparation is.

Many people throughout the world join Toastmasters International to pump up their public speaking skills. Toastmasters offers 10 Tips for Successful Public Speaking:

  1. Know Your Material. It isn’t necessary to memorize your speech, but you must become very familiar with your subject matter. Develop an outline. Use personal stories and conversational language to help you remember what to say.
  2. Practice, Practice, Practice. Rehearse out loud with all of the equipment you plan to use when you deliver your speech. Time your speech. Revise as necessary.
  3. Know the Audience. Find out who will attend your presentation and write your speech with them in mind. Greet audience participants as they arrive. It’s sometimes easier to speak to a group of friends than strangers.
  4. Become Familiar with the Room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area, and practice your speech with the microphone and any visual aids.
  5. Relax.  Breathe. Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
  6. Visualize Yourself Delivering Your Speech. Imagine yourself speaking with strength, authority, and confidence. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence.
  7. Realize that People Want You to Succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, and informative. They don’t want you to fail. They want you to experience success as much as you do.
  8. Don’t Apologize. The audience won’t notice you’re nervous unless you tell them. If you don’t feel confident, act confident. Chad Schultz, Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM), explains, “Don’t state how nervous you are and don’t include irrelevant material (such as a quotation about fear of public speaking).”
  9. Concentrate on the Message, Not the Medium. Focus your attention away from your anxieties and concentrate on your message and audience.
  10. Gain Experience. Experience builds confidence. Practice.

JulieThe best speeches include a clear, relevant message and a few great stories to illustrate it. You don’t need elaborate PowerPoint presentations and a suitcase of data. Focus on one theme. Create strong content and rein your speech in with a clear beginning, middle and end.

“Speeches are an inefficient form of communication,” says Nick Morgan, a Forbes contributor and author of Trust Me: Four Steps to Authenticity and Charisma. “People don’t remember much of what they hear, so focus and keep it simple.”

Most importantly, enjoy the experience. “The real Zen secret is to love what you’re doing in that moment,” says Morgan. “If you can relax and be happy about being there, the audience will feel that way, too.”

Be brave. No one knows you feel nervous until you decide to share the information with them – and there’s no reason to tell them. If you take the time to prepare well and practice, you will be equipped to deliver a powerful presentation.

What public speaking suggestions do you have to share?

2 Responses to 10 Tips for Delivering a Great Speech
  1. Comment * I believe a crucial tip is: Don’t say anything NOTHING for the first 6 seconds. The moment some people start walking toward the podium they start talking. The first 6 seconds I adjust the mic, look at my audience, smile and then start. I start with a bang – usually a question that will make them laugh.

    I realize this will not work with business presentations, but I am a motivational/inspirational speaker and I always take my audience through two types of emotions. It gets them involved and when they are laughing, I can hit them with something that will make them cry. You never lose your audience that way. They will hang on to your every word.

    And the best advice I can give for ANY type of speech is that when your audience knows how much you care, it is far more impressive than hearing how much you know!

    • I agree it’s good to begin a speech with something that will engage them such as laughter.
      As speakers, our words are powerful and can change lives. We must be careful not to “hit them” with anything to “make them cry.” Our words invite others into a relationship with them. We must honor that trust. As you said, we must let our audiences know how much we care.

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