Y ou need to make an important speech at a work-related event and you are really nervous.
Well, you are not alone. Many people fear speaking up in public.
How do you not only overcome the fear, but also excel at the task? Here are a few tips to help you prepare and deliver a really memorable speech.
How to make a GREAT presentation
Writing a winning speech
i . Know your audience. Understand who makes up your audience, and why you have been invited to speak to them. The most important question here is -- what need do you have to fulfill?
ii . Know the place. Familiarise yourself if possible with details like the size of the hall and audience, the acoustics etc. If you are familiar with the place and the set-up, last moment jitters will be relatively less.
iii . Choose an interesting topic. If you have already been given a topic, endeavour to make it more interesting. You could do this by adding real examples and injecting humour.
iv . Your speech must be well-structured with a distinct introduction, a middle and a conclusion.
v . Break up the middle into point form. Then tie together the points with appropriate transitions. This shows a very organised approach, as well as makes the speech easy to follow.
vi . Bring in humour, but ensure that it is in good taste and does not hurt anyone's sensibilities. You could give an example of an embarrassing moment you went through.
vii . Unless specified, don't make the speech complicated -- with too much data, especially in the form of dates, numbers and names. Instead, give a printed hand-out with these. This will ensure that your audience enjoys the speech without the stress of trying to remember all the complicated stuff.
viii . Bring in not more than approximately three salient points. Anything more and the entire effect is diluted. The human brain cannot focus on too many focal points at a time.
ix . Always have back up -- some extra examples and anecdotes in case you need to speak longer or you have forgotten parts of your original speech and can't go back to it.
x. One of the most important points: respect your audience. Prepare well and credit them with intelligence. They are taking time out to listen to you.
Be a star performer at work
Practice makes perfect
i . Stand in front of the mirror and practice. Watch your expressions and your body language, and make changes wherever required.
ii. Practice in a corner -- this will throw back your voice at you, and you can see how you sound.
in front of a relative or friend -- they will give you valuable feedback. But, be careful that you don't do this in front of someone overly critical or else you will lose your nerve entirely.
iv. Tape your speech, replay it and make corrections. This way you will gain a lot more confidence too, in addition to deleting irritating 'fillers' from your speech. Listen for unnecessary fillers like: like, uh, um, you know, well, okay, sort of, actually, basically etc. Any word you use when it is not required becomes a filler.
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While on stage
i . Avoid carrying reams of paper. Note down the important points on separate small cards, or in a bullet-list form on a sheet of paper. This coupled with the practice sessions at home will ensure you don't forget anything. Another problem with carrying the entire speech is that you will be tempted to read from it. The speech then lacks soul and the audience attention wanders.
ii. Look around the hall and understand that these are people who are here to listen to you. They think that you have something of value for them. Once you understand that, your fear would have vanished to a large extent. Take deep breath and then begin.
iii . Start by thanking the person who has introduced you, then count slowly till three. Make eye contact around the hall. This gives the audience time to settle down, and you, the time to calm down.
iv . Be enthusiastic and alive. Love what you are saying -- this will enliven the audience too, and works very positively towards building up thier impression of you.
v . Maintain eye contact all around, not just to certain sections.
viii . Don't panic if you have made a mistake or forgotten to say something. Only you know what your speech is about, so even if you have made a mistake that is not glaring, if you are confident, no one will realise that you have made one. Refer to your list of points to get back on track.
viii . Leave your audience with food for thought and a feeling of satisfaction, that their expectations were met.
ix . The last and final point and the most important -- go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing is more contagious than loving what you do and having fun while doing it.
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Yati Doshi is a corporate trainer based in Mumbai. She has eight years of experience in the corporate arena and two years of experience in training.