I got married in October and like a lot of grooms left the speech writing to the last minute. Despite that, the speeches went really well, as did the whole day which was great.
Public speaking is something I’ve always been relatively comfortable with. However for a lot of people the prospect of standing up on stage talking to a room full of people can be terrifying.
Being able to deliver a great speech can vastly improve your career and can be invaluable in certain experiences in life too. So it is a topic well worthy of attention.
So here are my key points to consider based on my own experience. As with most things in life I am not an expert in the field. Maybe these points will help you, maybe they won’t, let’s find out!
- Write it as though you are going to speak it, not read it
This is massively important for me.
When we write and then read it back it can seem well written; however everything can fall of a cliff when you speak it aloud.
Making even subtle changes, such as amending ‘it has been a fantastic day’ to ‘it’s been a fantastic day’ can make it flow much better when delivered verbally. Which can prevent any wobbles when you are stood up there in front of your audience and the pressure is on.
Read it aloud again and again. If you slip up anywhere make some changes to make it easier for you to deliver the speech smoothly, so that it flows from one sentence to the next. Even if it ends up looking like a 5 year old wrote it on paper.
- Tell a story or two
If you have read my previous posts you will know that they generally centre on a specific story (if they didn’t I wouldn’t have much to write about) as does this post itself. That is also an important factor to consider when speech writing in order to really engage your audience.
We are still children at heart. We like presents, having fun and we like stories. So make sure your speech has a story, preferably an interesting one that is easily relatable to the topic in hand.
Which brings us to…
- Have a structure
A good story along with a great speech needs a clear beginning, middle and an end. It needs to flow. It also doesn’t hurt to open your delivery with a brief introduction of what you plan to cover to set the scene. A good icebreaker can also help, as can a touch of humour if it is appropriate. For example I started my wedding speech with this:
‘Thank you to all of you who have made the effort to be here today. Out of the 95 invites sent we only had 3 people who couldn’t make it, rather than the 10-15 we expected. So thank you so much, for increasing the wedding budget even further!’
- Let your personality shine with confidence
Again those who have read my previous articles will have seen that I relate most pieces to a personal experience and how this can relate to the business of life. Personally I think it is key to be relatable. To come across as human, with real emotion and depth in the message you are looking to portray.
The audience needs to relate to you to keep them interested. People engage with and buy from people more than they do your product. This is crucial to remember when delivering your talk.
People often say ‘it is all about the delivery’ which is absolutely true. Obviously meaningful content is important, but if your audience isn’t engaged by you, the speaker, it can fall on deaf ears.
I’m not saying make the speech about you, absolutely don’t do that. However, do deliver it in your own unique manner with the confidence that everyone in the audience has given up their time to see you and hear what you have to share.
- Keep it slow and steady
Not only does this help you keep any nerves under control and prevents you from fluffing your lines. It also helps the audience keep track of what you are saying. You aren’t talking to your mates at a bar, you are delivering a key message. Do it with poise and grace in a consistent and efficient manner.
It is also a good idea to use the power of pausing to your advantage. Make sure that you take the time between all the key elements of your speech to let your points sink in. This will make a big difference to the impact that your speech has and will keep the audience on the journey with you.
- Remember your audience is in the room
This is an obvious one and the most basic thing to remember. How can you expect to engage with an audience if you are just looking at your speech cards the entire time? Keep your head up and use eye contact with audience members as often as possible.
This is where the importance of practice comes in and point 1 made above. There is also a secondary use for the pause further to that detailed in point 5. That is, that by its very nature, a pause gives you time to have a cursory glance at your notes if needs be. Obvious, but one to remember.
- A whiskey is great for calming any pre-match nerves
…Although proceed with caution…
This may be more acceptable at a wedding than perhaps it might be if you are doing a keynote speech at an industry leading conference. But it certainly helped me on my big day!
– Matthew Brown
Do you agree with my points here? Share and like this post if you do. I look forward to your own comments too, what would you add to this list?
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