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8 Things You Should Do Before Making a Public Speech

8 Things You Should Do Before Making a Public Speech

Whether you are addressing a classroom, the nation, a board of directors, or an award show audience, making a public speech is an art based on translating your message to the audience in front of you. If you truly know your message, your audience will understand it. If you believe in your message, some of your audience will undoubtedly agree.

The topics and the audience may differ, but the concept doesn’t – at least not entirely. That core concept ensures identical preparation steps prior to making any type of speech to any audience.

Here are the before-and-after essentials of making a public speech. Everything you aim to project must be in you before starting your speech.

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1. Respect your audience!

This rule applies before and during your speech. Facing your audience with the best of intentions will ensure those intentions to be successfully translated to them. Whether or not you realize it, respecting your audience will allow for your speech to be interesting, engaging, and stimulating as you will truly want to connect with them. Respect your audience for simply being there to hear what you have to say. This will automatically prompt you to give them their money’s worth. You will stand in front of them, motivated to reach them, and will ultimately connect with them even more than you’d expected.

Always start from the least knowledgeable members of the audience, when faced with a mix of people. Bring the topic of your speech closer to them by keeping it simple and working your way up to the complicated points you want to make. That way, everyone will understand you even better.

2. Locate your feelings.

Your feelings about the topic of your speech can and will influence your vocal projection. Your voice is an instrument that can evoke emotion in the members of your audience by conveying your own. Knowing how you feel about the topic of your speech and what you want to achieve with it precedes your vocal projection. Is the topic of your speech a learning experience? An experience with illness? Are you accepting an award and giving credits to those who helped you along the way? In keeping with your topic, is it your goal to inform others, raise awareness, or express gratitude? Whatever it may be, your goal and tone should align. You don’t want to give an emotionless speech!

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3. Be proud of yourself!

Everyone knows that the art of public speaking simply demands confidence; however, being proud of yourself for giving this speech in the first place will boost your confidence to a new level. You have been given an opportunity to convey a message to an audience who could remember your words for a long time to come if you make it powerful. Besides, isn’t that what you really want?

4. Match your appearance to your attitude.

Whether you like it or not, your appearance can help or hinder the point you are trying to make with your speech. You’re trying to sell a conclusion. If you look great, you will feel amazing. If you manage to look appealing, tastefully striking, fresh, or styled to perfection, you will experience another confidence boost. Wowing others with your appearance, especially when standing up in front of them to speak, can only be a good thing.

5. Be comfortable with your material.

Although it sounds self-explanatory, the importance of this particular point could not be overemphasized. You must believe in the quality of your material. If you do, your audience will agree, even if they relate to your speech in the ways you never imagined.

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However, what does that mean regarding the nature of your speech? If you’re giving a presentation, organize your notes as well as you can and remember every relevant piece of information. If you’re talking about yourself, be as honest as you feel comfortable being. You will achieve the desired connection with your audience in this way.

6. Relax!

Your confidence can lead to relaxation and vice versa. Use one to find the other or just enjoy them both. Relaxation leads to spontaneity when you know your lines, so to speak. Spontaneity can also add great quality to your speech. A relaxed approach will engage your audience more than you might realize before starting your speech. If you are relaxed, they will be too. They will develop an interest in the topic you are presenting and immediately have questions to ask.

7. Pick a quote.

Choosing (and using) a quote that applies to your presentation in a way that speaks to you will convey the message to your audience. Using someone else’s quote that relates to your material (or yourself) will be a striking addition to your speech.

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8. Be yourself!

This pivotal idea is just as important to your public speaking as it is in your life. When it comes to public speaking, you have to know what makes you effective. Also, you must assume that you are qualified to make the speech you are about to make. Wondering if you’re good enough will only lead to more wondering instead of enjoying the speech as much as you want your audience to. Take the approach you believe in.

Do you have anything else to add?

Featured photo credit: Man Taking Photo In Crowd Of People/Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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