How to give a good speech - a cheat's guide

 
Peter Botting
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Breathe slowly and speak fluently (Source: Getty)

I know, I know. I have heard it all before. You meant to spend more time researching, you really wanted to get coaching, you intended to get input from friend or colleagues. But you didn't. And now you are in trouble. The speech you have to give is this weekend, tomorrow, this evening or, worst case, in 10 minutes time!

So if you are that plonker that we all, including me, occasionally are, here is the cheat's guide to giving a good speech. Although to be fair, they are good rules to follow anyway.

NARROW YOUR MESSAGE TO THREE KEY THEMES

More than three themes will be lost and forgotten so don't complicate the message. Keep your message short and easily retold. Make sure your points are distinct and clear.

IDENTIFY AND REPEAT THE KEY WORDS THAT SUMMARISE YOUR MESSAGE

Identify the words that you associate with your message. Repeat these words throughout your speech to ensure that your ideas are concrete and remembered. Do not repeat the words like a broken record - make the words work. Avoid jargon and buzzwords which muddy your message, deafen the audience and confuse issues.

NEVER SPEAK FOR MORE THAN 20 MINUTES

People have places to go, people to meet, emails to fight, beer to drink etc. They really don’t want to be delayed or bored by your rambling speech. After twenty minutes people lose focus, get restless and start talking amongst themselves. After twenty minutes what you are saying is likely to be wasted anyway so you may as well shut up and join the party. Say what you have to say then shut up. You are not a space filler.

BREATHE DEEPLY, SPEAK SLOWLY AND PAUSE WHERE YOUR SPEECH HAS PARAGRAPHS

Use pauses like punctuation - pause for pargraphs,exclamation marks and theme changes. Don't rush into your introduction - pause first, then smile at the audience, then start. Breathe deeply and slowly from your stomach - this should both calm you down and slow you down. Breathe during your pauses. Don't blurt out words - speak slowly. Keep breathing while you are speakng - it's good for you. :)

SPEAK AS IF YOU WERE TALKING TO A FRIEND

This is not about speaking informally, this is about speaking fluently. Imagining that you are speaking to a friend will help you relax and make you feel more confident. Imagine your audience is made up of encouraging, smiling, nodding friends. And remember - it's just a speech - even if it does have the potential to screw up or make your career! You aren't going to die. Next time, prepare!

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