Effective Coomunication – Getting your Message across

Personal Presentation, Speech Writing, and Public Speaking

By Dianne Glenn

Speech Writing:

All speeches should have a strong opening and a strong ending with lots of content in between. The type of speech will depend on the subject, the event and the audience – is it to be humorous or serious? Know how much time you have and time your speech before going to the event.

1. Factual speeches – research well and ensure facts are correct, and when possible provide the references used and authors quoted. Read most but look up as often as possible – stop at times and give an informal comment or anecdote to illustrate a point, such as an example or a brief recount of an occasion that relates to your factual speech. You need to keep your audience engaged. Humour is very useful at this point.

2. Factual speeches – write as above but if you have a good memory, and know your subject well, make notes in left hand column of key words/points, or embolden them within the speech. Read the first part of the speech to set the tone, then speak to your key words/points when you can. When you run out of memory, you can quickly refer back to your written speech. Read quotes or actual facts to make sure you get them right. These could be emboldened in your speech rather than jotting on LHS of page.

3. Informative speeches – When you really know your subject well and do not need a written speech – prepare small cards on each of which you write a paragraph of key points, then speak to them. Make sure they are in the correct order – numbered in case you drop them at any time.

4. Informative speeches – Know your subject really well and have an excellent memory – on one card write a list of key words/points and speak freely to them.

5. Very informal speaking when there is no time for preparation, such as responses or opinions requested at a workshop – speak (from the heart?) about the subject you know well and with which you have experience, provide examples or reasons why, where you can to give credibility to this.

Presentation and Public Speaking:

Lecterns are great – somewhere to put your speech if there is a written one, make sure pages are in big print (especially if this means you do not have to take spectacles off and on), and in the correct order – do not be caught out and have to shuffle your pages. Put hands on the lectern to control shaking if you are nervous. For a less formal approach, if you do not have a written speech, maybe just notes – do not stand behind a podium and you will appear to be more approachable and “at one” with the audience. This is especially important if you are on the same floor level as them.

Use your body and your eyes for effect. Move your eyes, around the group, but take care not to focus too long on one person – who will squirm and others will feel excluded. Relax – move carefully and comfortably – do not slouch, swing around on your feet , twist your hair in your fingers or constantly run your hands through your hair to remove it from your face. Avoid dangly earrings!!!

Take care not to focus on a high point of the room – I believe looking high left means you are trying to briefly recall something, while looking high right means you are searching for some facts!!

Your voice should vary in pitch and volume – especially if you notice someone nodding off. This is especially important if you have to read a large amount of your speech. Speech must be clear – diction is important. Endeavour to sound enthusiastic, with vitality, but be sincere and thoughtful.

Nervousness – control your breathing – breathe deeply and regularly. Pause (for effect) but time to get the breathing stable, relax your neck and shoulders, if necessary take a sip of water for dry mouth. Take a bottle of water and a tumbler – do not drink from the bottle. Sometimes speakers are provided with water and other times – not, so be prepared. Sucking a lozenge before speaking often helps to keep saliva flowing before speaking.

Dress appropriately for the occasion – if speaking from a stage where the audience is below you, do not wear a mini-skirt – your legs can distract people – especially a male audience. Again, for a male audience, do not wear a plunging neckline, wherever you are speaking from. If you want to be heard and taken seriously, do not give your audience any reason not to listen.

Introducing Speakers:

The function of an introduction is to introduce the speaker to the audience, arouse interest in the speaker, establish confidence in him/her, announce the subject,  but not to make his/her speech.

1. Greet the audience, announce the purpose of the meeting where necessary.

2. Announce the title of the speaker’s talk with question time to follow

3. Give a local example and explain why the subject should interest this audience

4. Refer briefly to the training, work or hobbies of the speaker that qualifies him/her to speak on this subject.

5. Where required repeat the name of the organisation arranging the meeting, then finally announce the name of the speaker.

A quick guide in preparing introductory speeches is:

Why this subject for this audience at this time by this speaker? This builds up the interest with announcing the name of the speaker last, leading into his/her speech.

Thanking Speakers:

The function of the vote of thanks is to compliment the speaker and to propose a vote of thanks to be given, followed by inviting the audience to express their thanks by clapping.

Do NOT give your own version of the speaker’s subject – just show you have been listening. A good guide is :

1. Select a point from the speech

2. Add to it briefly by your local or personal knowledge

3. Tell members of the audience how they can benefit themselves or organisation if they put the speaker’s ideas into practice and compliment the speaker.

4. Propose a vote of thanks where the proposal is followed by applause.

Dianne Glenn – prepared for BPW NZ, Leadership Forum, 25-26 February 2012.

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