Ten Steps for Preparing a Great Speech
Use these tips to help youth in your leadership development program to develop strong public speaking skills.
1. Decide what you'd like to talk about. Usually the more focused your topic, the better.
2. Determine what the purpose of your speech is. Do you want to inspire, educate, persuade, exhort, train, challenge or entertain?
3. Think about your audience. Ask yourself: What does my audience already know about this topic? What is their attitude towards this subject? What kinds of illustrations and stories would appeal to my audience the most? If you want to quote from authors or poets or musicians, think first of the people this audience would be familiar with and try to use material from those individuals where possible.
4. Think about the occasion of your speech. Why are you giving your speech? What sorts of subjects would be suitable? What sorts would not be? Is this an occasion where humor would be appropriate or inappropriate?
5. Research the topic. What do you need to learn about your topic before you can prepare the speech? Do you need to find any authoritative sources to quote? Do you need to gather facts or data? Is there anyone you should talk to in order to gain more knowledge of your topic?
6. Outline the speech. What is the best way to arrange your thoughts and material? What is the most logical sequence for your points? Count how many parts you have to the speech. Are you in danger of giving people "information overload"? Remember that people have only a certain limited capacity for absorbing information. If you suspect your talk has "too much in it," run it by a few friends to see if they think you need to cut out some material.
7. Write out the speech sentence by sentence. Fill in your outline by writing down everything you want to say word for word. This may seem tedious, but it will help you formulate your thoughts more specifically and it will give you a way to get yourself back on track if you lose your train of thought during your talk. It also will ensure that you have something to say if you go completely blank! However, when delivering your speech, be sure to guard against reading your script word for word. That can be deadening.
8. Practice giving your speech. It can be helpful to give your speech in front of a mirror first, and then practice in front of friends. Memorize the main points. Practice enough times so that the speech is very familiar and you feel comfortable with it. Be sure to time your speech so that it is not too long or too short.
9. Deliver the speech. Be sure to speak slowly and clearly and make eye contact often with your audience. Again, don't read it word for work. Speak in simple, easy to understand language as if you were engaged in a conversation. Relax, trust yourself, and give it your best shot!
10. Evaluate. Ask someone to give you constructive feedback on your speech, both positive and negative. Develop a plan to strengthen the areas where you are weak.
Some Additional Helpful Hints
· Repeat key ideas often as this helps people remember your main points.
· Use first person singular, "I," as this will help the audience feel more connected with you. When challenging or exhorting the audience, be sure to use "we."
· Open with an attention grabber such as a surprising fact, interesting story or probing question.
· Speak clearly and slowly so that your audience can understand you.
· Don’t play with your hair (shoving it behind your ears) as this can be distracting.
· Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!