12 TopTips to
by Joel Saltzman
1. Know Why You're Giving That Speech
First, ask yourself this:
"Why am I giving this speech?" (If your answer is "Because
I have to," find yourself a better answer.) You give a speech to
inspire, entertain, persuade or provoke. If you don't have a clear,
compelling reason to GIVE that speech, your audience won't have a reason
to LISTEN to that speech.
Next, ask yourself: "Who's my audience?" Do your research. Visit with or make phone calls in advance to learn about the group to whom you'll be speaking. That way, you'll be able to speak directly to their interests, needs, goals and dreams.
3. Stop Procrastinating
The longer you wait to prepare that speech, the greater your anxiety. So don't jam yourself up by waiting until the last minute, when all you can do is panic or pray for Instant Inspiration. Instead, be ready to "Grab those speech ideas!," collecting them in the weeks, even MONTHS before the big day. Meanwhile…
4. Learn to Be Open to Everything Around You
Whatever happens in your
personal or professional life, be on the lookout for a potential story
you can use to illustrate a point - from the time you almost drowned
… to how you finally landed that mega-bucks contract. And read everything
you can - scanning books, magazines and newspapers for "stuff you
"If you are in a spirit of creating, every meeting, everything you just happen to see, to listen to or to read is something … for your own work."
-- Pierre Boulez, from THIS
MORNING'S Los Angeles Times
5. Organize Your Speech
Be sure to have a beginning,
middle and an end. (Hopefully, in that order.)
6. Hook 'em Quick!
Soon as you can, work to "hook" your audience. Start with a brief story, quip, or teaching example, something that "hooks 'em" right from the start. Then you can lead them wherever you want.
A word of caution: If you're
not very good at telling a joke, respect your limits - and your audience.
-- George Jessel
7. Involve Your Audience
Ask a question. Pose a problem. Instead of an unremitting monologue, from time to time involve your audience with an active give-and-take. (Just be sure not to lose control. Remember: You're still the person running the show.)
Practice your speech in front of someone you trust. SEE where their eyes glaze over … and where they light up. And be alert for sections where you feel awkward or uncomfortable, working to make your talk feel natural throughout. In other words …
9. Be Yourself
Actors are always advised
to "be yourself" - regardless of the role they're called on
to play. In giving a speech, let the same rule apply. Remember: They
came to see YOU - not a mannequin who looks like you. ___________________________________________________
-- Lee Iacocca
What's the easiest way to "be yourself" ...?
10. Don't Memorize
Instead of memorizing your speech, create a series of "sign-posts" - points or stories you plan to discuss. That way, your talk will appear more natural - which it will be - as you spontaneously broaden or expand on each point.
11. Use PowerPoint or
AV Support (Or Don't)
12. Be Vulnerable
Allow your audience to hear
how you're not so perfect after all. Imagine you're giving a speech
about how to be a great______ or why they should ______.
And by all means …
As the old saying goes: "Stand
up, speak up, shut up, and sit down!"
is a speaker, facilitator and consultant who teaches people in business