How to Prepare for a Speech
Preparing for a speech can be a daunting experience.
One way to improve the control of your presentation is to make effective use of your presentation aids. Your lectern should hold your text, not support your body, and your microphone should help your audience hear, not blast them with irritating feedback.
You can start gaining control over presentation aids with a few simple steps:
Position your lectern so the top ledge closest to you is approximately breastbone level. This allows the audience to see you and allows you to see your notes.
Position your microphone about a hand span below your chin. This will ensure an adequate distance from your mouth while screening out other noises. To avoid feedback whistles and screeches, stay away from walking in front of the speakers.
If your microphone isn’t cordless, make sure you have enough cord to move about. A good measurement rule is to attach the cord somewhere on your person so that you feel a tug when you have reached the maximum distance of your microphone cord. You certainly don’t want to have your mike yanked off if you take one step too many.
Use visual aids to enhance your presentation and to improve audience recall. You will need to select the aids that best fit your situation, format and budget. Slides, overhead projectors, computer software programs and videotape are all effective means of supporting your presentation, but they still involve some cost and significant advance preparation.
If you are working on a low budget, last-minute presentation consider using the very simple inexpensive flip chart as your visual aid.
There are a number of ways to use a flip chart effectively as a visual aid.
First, start with a new pad that has sufficient paper for your presentation with smooth finish paper to prohibit the ink from bleeding through. Choose a wide-marking pen with felt or porous plastic tips, limiting your choice to three colors with at least four of each of the three colors on hand as emergency “back-ups” should some of them dry out. Set up your easel so you and your audience can see the paper and one another. Position the chart opposite your writing hand, so you won’t block it when you write.
Secure the easel legs to the floor with duct tape once you find your perfect spot. Not only does this keep the easel in the optimum position for both you and your audience, it protects you against the embarrassment of the easel accidentally collapsing in the middle of your presentation.
When you write on your flip chart make sure you:
- Limit each sheet to one idea or concept.
- Write no more than nine lines of four to seven words per page, six to seven lines is best.
- Write as high as possible on the sheets.
- Use block letters that are at least an inch and a half high.
- Spell your words correctly.
- Use color for highlighting.
- Let each graphic support your point, not duplicate it.
- Look at your audience, not at the pad as you present flip chart information.
- Finally, try to arrive early for your presentation.
Check out the room and set up your visual aids, testing each piece of your equipment, the lectern height and the microphone. When you have done everything possible to ensure a professional presentation, you can be confident that your efforts will be rewarding to both you and to your audience.