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This Is What You Should Do When You Have To Give A Short Speech

This Is What You Should Do When You Have To Give A Short Speech

Lots of people are intimidated when faced with giving a short speech. Preparation is the key to overcoming any anxieties and delivering a successful presentation.

Get Back to Basics in Order to Find Your Key Message

If you are stuck at where to start writing your speech, try writing it as a letter to a friend. Now, find the key message in your letter and get rid of any extraneous information. Every stage of your speech should illustrate this key message. Being merciless in your editing will ensure a more powerful speech.

Everybody Loves a Good Story, Here’s How to Tell Yours

People love to hear stories. Use a good personal story to connect with your audience and deliver your message.

 

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Next to hunger and thirst, our most basic human need is for storytelling.

– Khalil Gibran

 

Good storytelling has innate patterns and elements.  Every story that you tell should have a main character, in this case, it should probably be you. Personal stories are the best ones to use for a short speech, this way the audience can relate to you.

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Next your story needs to have a conflict or problem, if you are talking about quitting smoking then you want to use a story about the struggle of battling this strong addiction. Each member of your audience has struggled with something in their own life. When you make it personal, they’ll feel your struggle and will be rooting for your success.

Then your story needs resolution. How did you stop smoking, and what did you change to see results? Finally, you want to wrap up the story so that it sends a clear message. Your message here should be the one thing that you want your audience to take away and remember.

Be Descriptive: Show, Don’t Tell Your Audience the Details

Just like in writing, it’s important to show your audience not spell out every detail for them. For example, don’t tell your audience you were “embarrassed” when you cheated and had a cigarette on your lunch break. Instead describe your reaction to the emotions, about “the flush that rose up your cheeks” when a colleague who came by your desk after lunch. You were certain they could smell the smoke.

Plan and Rehearse Your Material to Avoid Nerves on Speech Day

Create notecards to keep you on track with your speech. Make sure they are brief and easy to read. You’ll only want to glance at them, not read them. It’s important to know your subject and material thoroughly. You’ll be much more comfortable and your personality will shine through your speech when you aren’t struggling to remember the words.

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Practice in front of a mirror or, even better, in front of a video camera. Stand up while you practice and imagine yourself in the room where you’ll be giving your speech. Notice your posture and hand gestures. Standing up straight and tall will boost your authority. Plan your wardrobe for the speech. Be sure that what you are wearing is suitable for the venue and projects the desired image. If you are addressing business people, wear a suit.

Body Language:

  • Minimize hand gestures to maximize their impact
  • Don’t pace back and forth, it’s distracting for the audience
  • Use your eyes, connect with audience and judge engagement
  • Maintain a confident posture, shoulders back and head up
  • Clothing sets the tone for your speech

Speak Up, The People in the Back Can’t Hear You!

We tend to speak quietly when we are nervous. Speak as if you are talking to a person in the back of the room. It may feel uncomfortable or unnatural at first. That’s why it’s important to practice using your “speech” voice in advance.

Respect Your Audience By Being Mindful of Time Constraints

Most speeches have time constraints. Make sure you’ve timed your entire speech during practice. Studies have shown that most people are not very good at estimating times. On the day of your speech ask a friend or colleague time your speech and give you discreet cues, one minute before the end time and again at the end. Or set a silent timer on your phone and keep where you can easily glance at it. People will appreciate your respect for their time.

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Your time and effort in preparing for your short speech will pay off. Public speaking is a skill that you can learn and improve upon with practice. You might even find yourself seeking out speaking opportunities!

Featured photo credit: Nina Prentice giving welcome speech/British Embassy Rome via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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