Sunday, 20 October 2013

Talking in Public

Have you ever been asked to make a speech... Best Man at wedding springs to mind, not that I'll ever have to do this - thankfully!!

If the occasion arises, here are some basic hints and tips to help you.

1. Plan your talk with the occasion in mind.  Think about the event and the audience you'll going to address.  Use a tone of voice that is appropriate e.g. sombre for a funeral or memorial service, serious for a political address, informal for a family party, humorous for a wedding speech, and so on). 

2. Remember how long you've got to fill, and time yourself speaking out loud.  We often speak much faster than we write... remember this invaluable tip!

3.Think about your first line. It needs to grab the attention of those listening. Most people employ a joke to open their talk, or something to raise a chuckle.  If it's a serious talk maybe a thought-provoking question or statement would be best.  After about 40 seconds the introduction needs to be wrapped up and the real talk beginning...

4. List your items to cover simply so you can refer to this during the talk, if you need to.

5. Organise your list of items so they support and build on each other, and add or take out those points that don't fit into your theme.

6. Go out on a high!  As well as starting well, you need to finish with style. Make sure you summarise everything you've said and clarify anything that could have been unclear.  It is normal to conclude and then open the floor to questions, if the occasion demands.

7. When it's ready, read it out loud several times and time yourself. I've mentioned this already but it can't be emphasised enough. Imagine your own horror if you go up there and find you've got twenty minutes left to free fall... some people can fill this time with ease but it's not for everyone!

8. The free Cs': Crisp, Clear, Compelling.

9. If you can, ask someone to read your talk before you deliver it.  Check for any errors, spellings etc. Check that it's appropriate for the event you're speaking at.  Remember to thank those who invited you to speak, the host, and the audience for turning up and listening to you!

And that's about it... one last thing. Don't forget to practise!

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