So you’ve volunteered, been asked, or selected to give a speech. Now what?
Most people consider giving a speech up there with getting a root canal; but, actually, it’s not that hard, and can even be enjoyable if you’re well prepared.
Where to start? The best way is to first know your audience and the occasion. What is expected; a technical treatise, an inspirational message, or something light and entertaining? In a mixed group, try to find some common ground – work, community, geography, habits, past experiences or any other similarities with your audience.
The best topic is, of course, something you know about. An entertaining speech is a good all around choice, but all speeches have similar goals and techniques.
Developing Your Topic
There are many ways to develop a topic. For an entertaining speech, don’t just tell jokes, find a specific theme the audience can relate and visualize. Remember that an entertaining speech can have a serious message, and a serious speech can still be entertaining.
Some basic suggestions:
- Address your topic from different points of view.
- Choose an unusual introduction or approach to capture interest.
- Give a familiar issue, subject or topic a personal, dramatic or humorous twist.
- Use personal experiences to make a point. Talk about what you know.
- When describing common mistakes and failures don’t single out individuals or groups.
- Replace “professional jargon” with “real” talk for clarity.
- Structure your speech for style and flow. End with a memorable, unexpected or humorous climax.
- Use humor carefully. Don’t ridicule or insult groups or individuals.
- Try to memorize your speech, practice until so you don’t have to refer to your notes often.
- Practice on the timing, delivery and flow of your speech.
Delivering Your Topic