There’s a big difference between writing a great speech and delivering one. You may have an eloquently written speech designed to hit all the right notes. But when it’s time to deliver it, you may find yourself struggling to actually hit them. Oftentimes the way a speech looks on paper can be worlds apart from what it sounds like when it’s said aloud.
So how do you deliver a great speech? Here are five tips to keep in mind:
1. Rehearse…a lot!
How many times have you heard a speech that rambles endlessly or is punctuated with filler words like “um,” “so” and “like?” The best way to deliver a speech with polish is to practice beforehand. People often think that the more they practice the more “scripted” they will sound. But it’s quite the opposite. The more you practice, the more confident and natural you’ll sound. The more you practice, the less likely that the “ums” and “uhs” take over. I advise my clients to practice out loud, ideally in front of a small group of trusted friends.
2. Use body language to convey passion.
Successful public speaking is all about passion and emotion. If you’re excited, then your audience will feel excited too. Use body language that makes you appear confident and comfortable. Standing up straight with your shoulders back can go a long way in creating a dynamic presence. Try to avoid crossing your arms or clenching your hands as this can create a barrier between you and the audience. If you’re staying open to the audience, they will be more likely to tune in to what you are saying.
3. Articulate your words.
It’s critical to articulate your words, regardless of your natural speaking style. If you’re more soft-spoken, remember that your volume doesn’t detract from a speech so long as you say it with conviction. At the same time, even if you project your voice, but speak too quickly people may struggle to make sense of what you’re saying.
4. Work the room.
It’s natural to feel the nerves before giving a speech. One thing I’ve found works well is to speak to a few people in the audience before you take the microphone, so that you can focus on few friendly faces during your speech. If you’re making eye contact with a friendly person on the right side of the aisle, the people closest to their left will think that you’re talking to them too. If you do this a few times with people scattered throughout the room, the more connections you can make. Think of it as having a series of conversations with different audience members.
5. Have fun.
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. If you can relax and be happy about giving the speech, the audience will feel your positive vibe. It’s easy to get anxious, but the reason you’re likely standing up and giving the speech in the first place is a happy one. Perhaps Bobby McFerrin had the best advice with, “Don’t worry. Be happy.”