The art of delivering a good speech
Last night the coveted Oscars ceremony took place in Los Angeles, as ever a star studded event bringing together the very best of Holywood and the movie industry. Amongst the decisions about which designer dress/tux to wear, what way to style their hair and who to bring as guests, the award nominees will also have had to consider what they might say in their acceptance speech if their name was called out on stage.
It is a difficult situation to be in as they have no guarantee of winning yet need to address the celebrity gathered if they get the gong. What they face is something between an impromptu and a prepared public speaking scenario. There is quite a difference between the two and especially at the Oscars, emotion can sometimes take over as acting and producing dreams come true. It always makes for interesting viewing, how the actors and actresses communicate after effectively winning the best recognition their profession awards.
Whilst we may never have to grace the Kodak Theatre to make a speech, we may at times be called to make a presentation for work purposes, impress future employers at an interview or raise a toast to the bride and groom at a wedding. These are generally situations that, thankfully, you can fully prepare for.
So, here are my top tips for making and delivering prepared speeches:
- Know your audience. Liaise with the event organisers to get a list of all those due to attend. The more you know about the audience, the more you can prepare to engage with them.
- Keep to your time limit. You may be one of several speakers in which case you don’t want to run over your allocated time. Academy Award winners are supposed to only speak for 45 seconds understandable given the lengthy schedule of awards they have to work through. Matthew McConnaughey took almost three minutes to give his acceptance speech but considering he won Best Actor, who was going to stop him!
- Practice makes perfect…even in front of a mirror. Eye contact is very important so the more you know your speech, the more you can engage with members of the audience. Practising your speech helps you to put in pauses for breathing something you can’t time when you read your speech in your head.
- Speak clearly. Half the battle of a good speech is how you deliver it so there is no point writing an amazing speech if the delivery of it just lets you down. Be aware that people in the audience may not be familiar with your accent so slow down your pace and speak with purpose.
- Presentation aids. If your subject matter is full of statistics and would be best illustrated by accompanying slides, then do use presentation aids such as PowerPoint or Key Note. Remember that you need to let the audience digest the information on each slide so allow for pauses when you are rehearsing. You may be familiar with the phrase ‘death by PowerPoint’ so don’t have more slides than you need.
- Have a contingency plan. Whilst knowing your speech off by heart is recommended, do have speech cards as back up, especially for lengthly presentations. If using an iPad or tablet to read off, ensure your battery is full, your sound is muted and your screen lock is taken off so you can deliver your speech without undue stress.
- Enjoy it! The more you dread the situation, the more it will show in your delivery. Take a deep breath before you start, always begin by addressing the audience with ‘Good morning/afternoon/evening’ and smile to help you relax. Use the time you get to make an impression on behalf of yourself or your company. Not everyone gets the opportunity to be heard publicly so make it count.
If you need help delivering presentations or writing speeches for an important occasion, then please get in touch.
This article was written by purplerain