Preparing a Speech or Presentation

Speaking or giving a presentation in front of an audience can be pretty daunting. Being well prepared will help you manage your nerves and ensure you’re delivering the right message in the right way.

With years of experience in helping people fine tune their speech-making skills, I’ve developed a series of articles to provide some essential hints and tips to help you overcome your fears. These proven methods will soon have your audience hanging on your every word…

Preparation – the basics

For anything to be a real success, preparation is key – so firstly, let’s take a quick look at some basic preparation tips that will help you to craft your speech and ensure an effective delivery:

  1. Organise your speech – follow the SME principle, breaking your speech down into a start, middle and end.
  2. Write your speech – creating a physical script gives you the opportunity to change things around, while also providing a solid reference for practicing your delivery.
  3. Clothing – it’s important to look professional, but make sure you feel comfortable too.
  4. Visual aids – these can help the audience to understand what’s being said and reinforce the points of a speech in unique and interesting ways. Make sure they fit well with the content of your speech, whether that’s funny, serious, or technical.
  5. Practice, practice, practice – rehearse your speech as much as you possibly can, either in front of friends or a mirror. Focus on the speed of delivery and use a timer to help you pace your speech.
  6. Familiarise yourself with the venue – once you get to the event, check the stage or the setting where the speech will take place, getting a sense of the size of the space, where any steps or obstacles might be, and where to enter and exit.

Selecting your topic

Two of the most common questions I hear from people I help are:

What subjects can I talk about in my speech?

How do I choose what I’m going to say?

There are two key places you can find material: personal experience or through reference material.

Opportunities abound from your personal life experiences and you’ll deliver your speech with more conviction and enthusiasm if you feel more connected to it – helping your audience to respond more positively.

You can draw on your interests: Sports. Hobbies, Travel,  Entertainment

Or your career: Business processes. Ethics, Investments, Retirement

Or even your family: Ancestors, Child-rearing insights, Marriage, Divorce, Traditions

Reference sources

If you choose to use references from elsewhere, you have an unlimited number of ideas at your fingertips from the internet, or you can visit your local public library.

You’ll discover a great deal of inspira­tion from websites, Media sites, University research, Medical sites
Books: Reviews of various genres, Possible re-writes, Analysis, Theory
Magazines: Economic trends,  Human-interest stories, Scientific discoveries, Entertainment.

As you can see there is a wide range of sources that you can get speech material from. Just be careful that you’re not infringing on anybody’s copyright. Now you’ve got some ideas for finding inspiration for your speech subject and getting yourself well prepared for delivering your speech, in the next instalment, we’ll delve a little deeper into organising and opening your presentation.