Making a speech has and is very challenging. Some people would prefer to take on a much more difficult task than make a speech. This is because they summon up all kinds of nightmare scenarios like; what if I freeze?
What if no one laughs except where they are not supposed to? Will everyone remember the mistakes I made for the rest of my life?
Yet, by learning a few techniques used by professional speakers – who are regarded the most scared of all – you can not only conquer your nerves but you can also make a powerful impression and within seconds, actually start to enjoy the whole experience.
Check your look
Dress appropriately, and be tidy, so you feel comfortable and smart. Dressing professionally also helps kill the fear that you are shabby and the audience gets to feel that they are respected. But remember not go too far and involuntarily distract them.
Before you go on, chat to people in your audience. It will help create a warmer and friendlier atmosphere. But as you are waiting to be announced, repeat your opening sentence a few times to distract you from your nervousness and to give you the confidence of a sure start.
To help relax from head to toe, take three deep slow and when starting, pause for 1-2 seconds to establish yourself. While standing upright and relaxed, pleasantly recognize a friendly face nearby and smile to show warmth for the audience, which act is rarely misinterpreted.
In fact Chris Page, a business missionary in Rwanda, said beginning with a joke before the audience kills off all the nerves. Make eye contact with the audience, briefly from one to another as a way of showing interest in them.
Scan the audience, and do not miss anyone, anywhere, ever.
Before you start your speech, occasionally start a sentence looking at one section of the audience and finish looking at another section. Until your confidence grows, try looking at the spaces between them.
Recall how you talk to your mother, friend or boss. It is usually different for each. So this time, imagine that someone who loves and appreciates you is listening. Start out by imagining you are talking to them.
It is believed that successful speakers plan energy and conviction in order to hold their audience from start to finish. But as if they stop concentrating on the words and the trend of their speech, so will the audience. Therefore, believe what you say and deliver it with conviction and passion.
During your speech delivery, these suggestions may feel unnatural when you first try them, but you can see just how effective they are by listening to the phrasing of top presenters on TV and radio. Try to take time and notice how they emphasize key words in every sentence.
Therefore, when you go through your speech, you will find it useful to underline a number of verbs and adjectives in each of your sentences to remind you to give them extra ‘push.’ Don’t allow your voice to go down at the end of sentences. Every word has to be heard in full.
Pace and pause
These are two integral elements in every speech that you can use to your advantage. Don’t rush, particularly when you start but speak fast enough to keep people from becoming bored and slow enough for people to absorb fully what you’re saying.
However, slow down to emphasize and reinforce your key ideas. You can vary your pace to inject excitement or gravity and to add color to your speech, change the pace and rhythm of your delivery between topics or paragraphs.
Pause to set up an important point and after pause again to add emphasis to allow the point sink in the audience’s mind. Do not pause for too long or you could appear pretentious.
Keep your gestures natural and comfortable by rehearsaling and practicing. If you are speaking with real conviction, your gestures will be real.
Revise and polish you presentation in a more comfortable format to avoid errors. You may find it useful to rehearse your presentation in front of a full-length mirror.
It will not only help you perfect your speech delivery but will also help you avoid a whole push of common mistakes. For example, it will help ensure that you do not make shoddy practices before your audience.
And when it is all over, smile (unless it’s not appropriate) to tell the audience that you have done your best, you have enjoyed your talk and that you are confident they have enjoyed it too. It also shows that they are a great audience who have responded well.