Take steps to ensure smooth speech
Many people attach a great deal of stress to the assignment of a public speaking task. Giving a speech is often listed as the thing that people fear most. However, many professionals use this nervousness to their advantage.
In fact, an obvious lack of anxiety can even indicate little interest or motivation to an audience. To maintain control of your nervous energy, make sure that you are well prepared and knowledgeable about your subject. To ensure that you are sufficiently ready to execute a smooth and skillful speech, follow these important steps:
- Establish your purpose. Speaking toward a single purpose is the easiest topic type for a speech to prepare, and is usually the most successful. When you have determined your purpose, find out about your audience. Use this knowledge to help you shape your message.
- Make an outline. List the major points of your speech in a logical order, then go back and fit minor points in under each major point.
- Gather information. You need informed research to support your points. After adding the research results to your outline in the logical order within your speech’s information hierarchy in which they fall, your speech should be prepared. Add visuals, but only when they effectively reinforce the key points in your speech. Avoid putting the whole story in the visuals or your audience will move their attention from you and instead pay attention to the images.
- Practice. Be alone when you make your first practice runs. Speak out loud and practice in front of a mirror. If you have access to video taping equipment, tape yourself in a practice run, then sit down, review it and see how you can improve. Avoid reading your speech. Use the outline only to get familiar with your material flow. When you feel comfortable with the material, have someone listen to the entire presentation, including visuals. Be open to criticism.
The best-prepared speech can stumble and fall if the presentation isn’t effective. Your delivery must be clear and audible since when you speak, your first objective is to be understood by your listeners. If you speak fast and your words are distinct and can easily be understood, you will hold the attention of listeners. If you speak slowly with too many pauses, you may irritate or lose the attention of your listeners. Feel free to use variations in pace and strategically placed pauses for effect but be careful not to include unnecessary words that are the result of nervousness.
The tone is also important. A monotone will cause your audience to lose interest. Use inflection to avoid monotony to keep your audience interested. Avoid dropping your voice at the end of sentences; this indicates a lack of confidence in your subject matter and causes you to lose your authoritative voice.