There are times in most people’s lives when they will be required to give a speech, whether it is at work, school, or even a wedding. For many people, this is a daunting task. The good news is that there are things you can do to improve your public speaking skills and ensure that your audience is entertained and informed. These six tips will help you to give an effective and memorable speech.
1. Know your audience
Find out as much as you can about your audience before the event. If you are speaking in an informal setting such as a wedding, you can be more casual with the speech. If you are giving a speech at work, you must identify the expected outcomes. Doing a little research lets you tailor your message to suit the occasion and the audience.
2. Keep it simple
Your audience will not remember every word you say, so keep your speech as simple as possible. Focus on the key points and ensure that you structure your speech to bring them out. Have an introduction and a summary at the end to highlight the main points, to help the audience retain as much information as possible and talk about your speech after the event.
Rehearse your speech beforehand, and time it. Ideally, you should practice in the room where you will be giving the speech. If possible, rehearse in front of a mirror to see how you look, as well as how you sound. Practicing with a small audience of friends and family can also be helpful.
4. Make eye contact
Strive to make eye contact with the audience during your speech, to hold their attention and minimise distractions. This can be uncomfortable for some people, but you do not need to look at each person individually — just focus on a few friendly faces. If you are using notes, use bullet points as reminders and a large font so you only need to glance at your notes occasionally, rather than reading from them.
5. Interact with your audience
Interacting with the audience can be a great way to hold their attention. There’s no need to wait for question time at the end. Asking questions of the audience during the speech will prevent your listeners from getting bored and distracted.
6. Keep it short
Many people have a limited attention span, so your speech should be concise. Focus on the main points and edit out unnecessary content ahead of the day. This strategy will grab attention and ensure that your points are understood.
For a speech to be effective, you must prepare properly. You need to identify with your audience and tailor your message to suit the situation, keeping the message short and simple to ensure that your audience grasps as much information as possible. Prepare and practice your speech well before the due date, so you have enough time to plan your content and rehearse. If you can do all this, your speech will be entertaining, informative and memorable.
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