Making a speech is a skill that can serve you extremely well in the school setting and in many other facets of your life. To deliver an effective speech is to communicate with confidence, poise, and more often than not, to present something that you care about and are passionate about. In these ways, making a proficient speech is not just something that you may be forced to do for an English oral presentation, but it encompasses a range of skills which translate into the workforce and can greatly increase the opportunities you may come across in your life.                    

However, the art of making a speech is something that is perhaps under-appreciated throughout our high school education. Whilst essays, resumes and common test questions all have a particular set of guidelines and conventions, a speech entails a diverse range of communication skills and is not as easily taught. As such, it is often thought that people are either naturally gifted at addressing an audience, or suffer from severe stage fright. And whilst many people may believe that they fall neatly into one of those two categories, the truth is that there are lots of different tips, techniques, methods and skills that can be practiced and implemented in order to gain experience and confidence in delivering a successful speech.

Why make a speech? It seems like an obvious question but it’s more valid than you may think. Many people struggle to deliver effective speeches because they don’t have a clear goal that they want to achieve by making the speech. It’s a great start to have relevant statistics, useful evidence and some beautiful visuals to aid you, but without a clear contention you may fall into the trap of simply reading off a PowerPoint and boring the audience. So ask yourself why you are actually making the speech; is it to inform? To persuade? To inspire? Establish the reason behind your speech and the things you want to achieve from it, and you’ll find your speeches to be far more engaging and effective.

So what can you do to improve the quality of your speeches? The following are a few things that you can practice in order to hopefully execute a solid speech:

Find a method that works for you

Many people fall into the trap of trying to copy somebody else’s presentation and replicate it thinking that it is the exact formula for a perfect speech. The truth is, there is no set convention for making a speech. Some people like to use cue cards, some people prefer getting their prompts from a PowerPoint, some like to do both, some don’t do either, and some have completely different approaches. The best thing to do is play around with different methods and establish which manner you are most comfortable with.

Practice your speech beforehand

Practice is one of the best things you can do to improve the quality of a speech; it allows you to refine parts of the speech and built a heap of confidence prior to your address. If you’re ever worried about speaking to an audience, grab a couple of people and rehearse your speech in front of them.

Develop your body language

Words can get boring. To ensure you keep the audience engaged, do the simple things that you would do in a normal conversation. Maintain as much eye contact as possible, don’t be afraid to ditch the cue cards and use your hands to gesture, try to avoid standing still and remember that you are talking to the audience, not the imaginary guy at the back of the room.

Know your audience

Again, it seems quite obvious, but remember who you are speaking to and try to articulate your words accordingly. After all, it is your audience that ultimately determines the success of your speech.

Those are just a few things that you can do to improve the way you make speeches. Whilst intelligence in the classroom is fantastic, the ability to engage an audience in an effective fashion will serve you extensively in many different ways throughout your lifetime. Regardless of whether you are confident you can dazzle a crowd or you’re petrified about appearing in front of an audience, experimentation and practice will allow you to see drastic improvement in your speech making and communication skills.

Can we all learn to make great speeches that inspire the world?

Yes we can.

~ Post Written by Tyler Dower