My quick guide to public speaking

To help prepare a major speech, I’ve gathered a few key principals of preperation and delivery.  They are:

  • Audience.  To reach listeners, find out as much as you can about them.  What are their ages, gender, education level?  What is their attitude toward the subject of your speech?  How much do they already know about the content you intend to present?  Once you’ve gathered as much info as possible, try to adapt your speech to meet thir needs and interests.
  • Topic.  Choose a topic that is intersting to you and about which you know a lot about.  Your topic should also be interesting to your listeners – one they will consider timely and worthwhile.  Narrow the topic so that you can comfortably and adequately cover it within the time allotted.
  • Organization.  Organize the body of your speech by devising two or three main points that explain or prove the central idea.  Next, try to develop at least two subpoints for each main point with material such as examples, statistics, and quotations from experts.  Subpoints should illustrate your main points.
  • Transitions.  Try to carry your listeners smoothly from one part of the speech to the next.
  • Introduction.  The first part of your speech should grab the attention of the listeners and make them want to listen to the rest of the speech.  A good attention getter may include stories, intriquing questions or intersting facts.
  • Conclusion. Summarize your key points and then close with a clincher (such as a quotation or story) to drive home the central idea of the speech.
  • Outline.  Put together all parts of your speech into an outline.  Make sure that everything in the outline serves to explain, illustrate, or prove the central idea, otherwise known as thesis.
  • Practice.  Rehearse your speach several times.  An hour speech should translate to aprox 8 hours preperation.  Don’t memorize the speech, but strive to rehearse ideas (as qued by your notes).
  • Self-confidence.  Develop a positive attitude about yourself, your speech and your audience.  Don’t let fear cripple you:  nervousnes is normal for most speakers.
  • Eye Contact.  Look at all parts of your audience throughout the speech, glancing down at your notes only occasionally.  Avoid staring at a wall, the floor or a window.
  • Speaking rate.  Speak at a rate that makes it easy for the audience to absorb your ideas, neither too slow or too fast.
  • Clarity and volume.  Pronounce your words distinctly and speak loud enough so that all listeners can clearly hear you.  Avoid verbal fillers such as uh, ah, um, er, okay, ya know and most recently, “right”.
  • Posture and poise.  Stand up straight.  Try to be comfortable, yet poised and alert.  Avoid leaning or slouching.
  • Enthusiasm.  Don’t simply go through the motions of giving a speech.  Your whole manner – eyes, facial expression, posture, voice- should show enthusiasm for your subject, and you should seem genuinely interested in communicating your ideas.
  • Ending and departure.  Say your conclusion, pause a few moments, and then ask – in a tone that shows that you sincerely mean it – “Are there any questions?”

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