Public Speaking with Pizzazz!

In the beginning was the spoken word. And the spoken word was and is the means of communicating ideas to our fellow man. The more effectively we speak, the greater the understanding of our audience.

Before beginning any endeavor, we need to be in a good mental state of mind. Take time to relax. Pamper yourself a bit with soft music, a quiet dinner, or a round of golf�.whatever works for you.

Ready? Then let’s begin. So you’ve been asked to speak, but what topic do you choose? Either you feel there is just so much to choose from, or you’re having trouble coming up with an idea. For most, it’s the latter. Ask yourself: ‘What are the interests of my audience?’ Jot down a few ideas that come to mind. Next, ask yourself: ‘What are my interests?’ Jot down a few of these ideas. Now you have a list to choose from. Once you make that choice, the battle has begun!

Your speech actually begins with your introduction. If possible, try to write your own for each speaking occasion to ‘set the stage’ for your speech. Write it with enthusiasm! You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Make the audience eager to hear what you have to say. You can let the audience know what your topic is and why it is relevant. For example, if your topic is ‘How to Make Millions,’ a typical introduction could be:
The Optimist Club is delighted to have a speaker who is a self-made man. He has found a way to create wealth from a very small investment in time and money. Tonight, he will show us how we can accumulate a small fortune as he has done. Please welcome to the stage, Mr. John Q. Public!

You may find that writing your introduction is easier once you’ve written your speech. However, writing a tentative introduction in the beginning may be helpful. However you decide to do it, be sure it meets the criteria of grabbing your audience.

Monotone is definitely out when presenting a speech. Your voice is a valuable tool in getting the attention of the audience and keeping it. Raising your voice can show excitement or passion. Lowering your voice can bring a point home, especially if you pause after making your point. Mimicking a character can add to a comedic story. Use your voice to express a wide range of emotion.

Beware of the dreaded ums and ahs! Nothing can ruin a good speech more quickly than having it interspersed with more than the occasional ums and ahs. Endless ands and sos as fillers tend to clutter your speech as well and make your decisive points less decisive. Several practice runs of your talk should help take care of these dreaded insertions. You may want to video these practices to fine tune your speech.

Also, be sure to use words your audience will understand. Public speaking is not a time to show off the big words you know, it’s an opportunity to communicate effectively with your audience. In order to do this, you need to speak to them, on their level. Why use the word ‘gargantuan’ when ‘huge’ will suffice?

Like your voice, your facial expressions help to enhance your speech. A bright smile warms your audience. A sad expression tugs at their heartstrings. Unique facial contortions can draw laughter when used in conjunction with humor.

Your stance is important as well. There are times when you’ll want to move around on the stage. At other times, you’ll stand still. Make sure when you do, your stance conveys a measure of confidence. Above all, make sure you appear natural and unrehearsed.

Additionally, gestures make a difference. Think of speakers you’ve heard in the past. Are any vivid in your memory? How interesting is a speech where the speaker keeps his hands clasped throughout most of his oration. Not very. Now think of an animated speaker who used gestures to show how BIG something was or how small.

“The giant was TEN FEET TALL!” he yells, eyebrows raised in amazement, jumping up to reach to the giant’s height.

Now that’s a scene you won’t soon forget. Gesticulations and facial expressions can make your speech memorable. Matching your gestures to your words creates impact with your audience.

Some people believe the eyes are the windows to the soul. If that’s the case, when speaking, you need to bare your soul. Eye contact is as important as the content of your speech. The mistake many speakers make is that they quickly scan the audience. To make your speech more impressive and convey a sense of confidence, scan your audience, surely. But rest your eyes for several seconds on each person, if a small audience, or several people in each section, if speaking to a large audience. This gives them a personal link to you. A link that will make them concerned about what you’re saying, and make them accept you as sincere.

Now that we’ve discussed the elements to give a good speech, let’s discuss content. This is the most challenging part of preparing a speech. If you want to reach your audience, you’ll need to compile good material to create your speech. Once you’ve decided on a topic, even if you know it like the back of your hand, research it. You may find other tidbits to enhance what you already know. There are many resources available to gain good information. Your local library is a wealth of information. The Internet is chock full of valuable resources. If your topic is related to current events, delve into your local newspaper and see what you can find. Your best bet is to have several sources of information to draw from during your preparation. If your speech is fact filled, be sure to take notes as to where you found your information in case you’re asked to cite it.
Overdone or underdone? You’ve completed all your research and have more material than you can use. Now what? It’s hard to discard good factual material from your speech, but rather than inundating your audience with more facts than they can handle, cut your speech down to size. Nothing is more frustrating than being a member of the audience when the speaker spouts more facts that you can conceivably keep up with. On the other hand, make sure you give your audience their ‘money’s worth.’ It’s equally frustrating for someone to show up to hear a speaker and go away feeling as though he has wasted his time.

An unforgettable ending allows you to finish your presentation with self-assurance and effortlessness. Your conclusion is as important as the beginning of your speech. Create a good closing and then memorize it. Your conclusion should include a summary of your speech. In the beginning you tell your audience what you’re going to tell them. In the body of your speech, you tell them. And in the finale, you tell them what you told them. Trust your prepared ending. Now is not the time to add to it. When the time arrives, deliver your closing with confidence.

Your speech isn’t over until you’ve left the stage or relinquished the lectern to the facilitator of the meeting. Never slink off the stage, even if you feel you’ve ‘bombed.’ Always show confidence in your stride. You want to appear as successful and poised as you possibly can.

The spoken word is your means of communicating ideas to your audience. The more effectively you prepare for your speech, the greater the understanding of your listeners, and the more effective you will be as a speaker. You’ll be someone who can truly execute public speaking with pizzazz!

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