Hemingway once stated that giving a speech was one of the greatest fears of his life. In fact he also wrote a small essay on how to overcome this fear and deliver a speech that makes a great impact on your audience.
Whether you want to deliver a speech at a marriage ceremony or at a business convention, you may face difficulty if you have an inherent fear of speaking in front of an audience. What if there is no escape and your career depends on your ability to talk in front of scores of people? Are you going to pass on the opportunity or are you going to brace up for it? The fact that you’re reading this blog post means that you are preparing to brace up for it. That’s really great. Here are a few things you can take care of in order to deliver a great speech to an audience and make a lasting impact.
Be comfortable with your subject
You don’t fumble when you know your subject inside out. The moment you start thinking that your audience may know more than you do it is going to be catastrophic, unless you’re able to handle that situation using your sense of humor and creativity. Otherwise, spend ample amount of time researching your topic and strengthen your weaker areas. Cover all the questions and topics you think your audience may ask you or may expect you to talk about them.
Don’t learn the speech “by heart”
Learning a speech by heart basically means reading it from a paper and if you want to do that, why not simply distribute your printed speech to your audience? They are not there to listen to your voice; they are here to listen to you. Once you have become comfortable with your subject (as mentioned above) prepare it to speak without reading verbatim. It is helpful to create small notes you can occasionally refer to in case you cannot recall certain facts, but don’t try to learn every word of your speech. If you do that, in case you forget something, there is a chance that you will forget the entire speech. Further, when you learn a speech by rote, you sound very monotonous and weird.
Focus on delivering a message rather than a speech
Why do you want to deliver a speech? It is certainly not a performance. You have got something useful to offer and you want to share it with your audience. Their lives will be richer after your speech compared to their lives before your speech. So when you are preparing your speech focus on the value you’re going to provide. Your audience is going to be grateful to you. They are the recipients and you are the provider. Constantly remind yourself that.
Most people are too busy to judge you
Do you think that most of the people sitting in the audience are constantly judging you? Contrary to the popular misconception people are not spending their time judging you, they’re trying to understand what you are saying. They are already impressed that you have the courage to stand in front of everybody and deliver a speech. Remember that just as you have fears of talking in front of an audience, most of the people sitting in front of you have somewhat similar fears. The mere fact that you have overcome that fear impresses people and they respect you. After that even if you fumble and even if you forget a few lines, they are not bothered. They want to assimilate as much as you are communicating. If they have paid for the talk, they have all the more reason to spend less time on judging you and more time on retaining what you’re saying.
Don’t try too hard at trying to impress people
Everybody is grown up here. Just as people are not there to judge you, they are also not there to be impressed by you. They are just interested in what they can get out of the speech. If you spend your effort trying to impress them then the focus will shift to that act instead of the real purpose of the speech. Focus on that. Watch a few videos of Steve Job. He would wear the same dress and assume the same way of talking no matter how many speeches he delivered. He did that because for him the speech and its content were important rather than how he looked and how he talked.
So these are a few things you can keep in mind while preparing your speech.