3 Tips for Preparing Your Speech

Too many of us have been there. 

The CIRCUMSTANCES

We’ve been selected to speak at an event and now we need to gather our thoughts on the topic. Seems overwhelming. We wonder where to begin and where to end.

The PROBLEM

Yet once the ideas surface, they come in waves. Is there enough time for all this content? Or on the flip-side, no ideas come to mind. Now what? How do we prepare for this speech? Many of us procrastinate in addressing this problem.

*Don’t wait until the day before the presentation. Your anxiety level will skyrocket, you won’t sleep well the night before, and your presentation will suffer.

The SOLUTION

From a practical perspective, the sooner we generate ideas, the more time we have to hone them, organize them, then bring the ideas to life in a way that resonates with listeners.

We may think it will take us an hour to plan, but if we like reflecting on ideas, we need several hours. Spending some time every day between the selection and the event helps us crystallize our thoughts and move them into a focus the audience will love.

We all work differently, based on our thinking/doing style, but we all benefit from preparing a speech with the following tips in mind.

1. Less is more.

The trap to avoid is overwhelming your speech with piles of information. More information does not prove we are credible. It only proves we don’t prioritize.

Ask yourself this: What’s the most important thing on the topic, from my perspective, my listeners need to know?

Answering this question allows you to focus on unique content, to appeal to your listeners, and to take your time.

Speakers who take their time are understandable. They demonstrate poise, thoughtfulness and leadership. Be selective about your message content. Less is more.

2. It’s not about you.

We speakers take a trip to Pride when selected to speak. We appreciate the recognition and then often quickly start piling on the material to prove we are worthy of speaking. But it’s not about us. It’s about what our listeners need from us.

Or we get concerned we won’t be good enough. That takes us to Imposter-ville. This new destination leads us to beat our head against the wall, Charlie Brown-style, and doubt our abilities. We procrastinate and then end up with a shoddy message.

It’s not about us.

Ask yourself, who are my listeners and what about my topic is most relevant to their needs?

Then create a template that allows you to focus on your listeners, detailing the following:

1. What surprises them or attracts their interest in your introductory remarks?

2.How can you quickly relate to problems people like them may have?

3.How can you affirm their needs?

4.In what ways can you offer them solutions or hope?

Address these things and keep visualizing them, not you.

3. Rehearse

Even seasoned speakers know they’ve not fully done their job until they have taken the time to rehearse their message, on their feet (if that’s the presentation style expected), aloud.

Rehearsal in this manner gives us the chance to bring what’s in our mind to spoken language. Many of us are better writers than speakers (not me), and as a result, our words may be cumbersome when spoken. Rehearse using spoken language for tighter connection with listeners. You sound conversational and more at ease.

Rehearse to make sure you use key words or phrases, often. That repetition creates a mental flow and helps listeners connect the dots of your message.

But mostly, rehearse shifting from being in your head (focused only on your message) to looking around and actually talking to your listeners. Remember, it’s about them, not you.

We don’t naturally speak this way when standing in front of others. But we can be more habitual about it after rehearsing. Maybe 2-3 times. It just depends on how many times we alter our content.

Preparing a speech sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? But face it. We all want to come across well, and our listeners want us to, as well. You will get called on to speak. Prepare well using these 3 tips.

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On April 10th, 2015, posted in: anxiety, audience, hone your message, practice, preparation by