Plenty of Bad Speeches Make a Good Speech
Perhaps you might not succeed in delivering a great speech this time also! So what? Understand that a speaker is not a once-for-all finished product. Instead the beauty of a speaker is that he or she is being moulded every day. Instead of trying to destroy the flaws; try to blend them into the design.
That means work on your strength as a speaker and being very good at it. Then slowly you’ll find that the shortcomings do not trouble the outcome of the speech. After all, all good speeches are based on lessons learned from plenty of bad speeches. When these lessons are stringed together; it shapes a speech that touches the heart, rouses the intellect, and inspires people.
Nothing Can Substitute You
Some find it painful at first to accept their shortcomings. Yet it is a joyful release of hope and celebration as one finds the truth that he or she is so unique and that nobody can replace him or her no matter what others think of them.
Yes friend, their might be so many things not perfect about you. Yet there is nobody else like you. So celebrate life as God’s gift to you. What better return can you give for that gift than being true to your own self.
So let us stop pretending. We are not actors on a world stage. Instead we are real people with ever so many shortcomings. Each one of us is having infinite value and worth in God’s eyes even though we appear to be of so little worth to others. That is the truth.
And there comes a moment when that truth dawns. This experience is liberating to say the least as far as a speaker is concerned. For the greatest asset a speaker brings on stage is he or she himself. No other visual aid can ever substitute you on stage.
You need not try to be extravagant in your dressing to make a statement. What comes across to the audience much more powerfully is the quiet confidence that you bring onto stage born out of the knowledge that you are making a statement as no one else can!
The Secret Is to Fall in Love
When a man and woman fall in love, the desire to communicate with each other dominates their thoughts. This is the key to being a great speaker.
When the desire to communicate is fuelled by a relevant message you are able to connect with your audience. At this point, your focus is not on fear about speaking; but on how to make yourself understood to the audience.
That brings us to falling in love once again. The moment that happens you want to express your love. It can take the form of gifts, flowers, cards or chocolates. All that means just one thing: “I love you.” That is the big idea, the key thought, and the overriding emotion.
But the fun is that you are thinking about yourself. All your thoughts are on your loved one. This is what should dominate a speaker’s mind–to make the audience understand what he has got to communicate. That is the desire to communicate. When that happens it is goodbye to stage fright and extraordinary delight in speaking!
“The human brain is a wonderful organ. It starts to work as soon as you are born and doesn’t stop until you get up to deliver a speech.” When the brain freezes, a beginner-speaker can panic at this point. However hard he tries, he might not get anything to speak on.
But what is the real problem that haunts a person when he tries to find a topic? Is it really that he does not have enough knowledge about something the problem? I don’t think so. The problem is something different. It is a nagging feel of the mind that tells the speaker that what he speaks about might be uninteresting to the audience.
This thought is simply untrue. Anything about you can be made interesting. Your biographical sketch can be interesting; provided it does not boast about “I did this,” and “I did that,” and provided that it does not go for a chronological listing of academic achievements. Instead if you briefly mention some aspect of your academic side that the audience can listen to with delight, then you would succeed.
Likewise, your favourite hobby, ambition, likes and dislikes, relationships, the game you love, movies that you like, are all subjects that can be made into interesting speeches. So next time someone invites you to speak, do not think of complex subjects and panic. Instead think on simple things and speak. For simplicity always appeals. It hides greatness within!
I Am Not Good Enough
“Am I good enough?” The truth is you are not. If you wait till you get over this feel to speak, you will wait for ever. So find comfort in the thought you are good enough with all your faults, shortcomings, and imperfections.
Why do I say so? This is because only God alone can clean up what you have messed up. That takes time. You need patience, faith, and perseverance. You need to get up every time you fail and move forward with hope.
What is available to you is God’s grace. How can one explain that? It simply means his help is available to you even when you are not good enough.
One speaker expressed it like this. “In gully cricket sometimes an opening batsman gets out for a duck the very first ball. Then the opposing team allows him a second chance by starting the game afresh once more. This is similar to God’s grace.”
Often I have heard speakers say that God is a God of the second chance. Is that true? What if he stopped with that second chance given? I believe that God has given us multiple second chances.
This is a more compassionate picture of God’s grace. And it is available to you. Not because you are good enough. But because he loves you in spite of all your failures. So don’t wait to get out of your inferiority complex. Just get up and speak.
The point is simple. It will take a bit longer than your life on earth to get all your problems solved. Therefore learn to speak in spite of all your difficulties, all your “I am not good enough” feel.
You can keep on waiting. Or you can take a bold step and start speaking. The choice is entirely yours.
You need not try to take a detailed account of every mistake you make while you speak. Instead take some time to recollect some portion of your speech you had done well. And think of how to excel that performance.
For it is in pushing beyond your best past performances and rising above your limitations that true test of character is found. Such efforts involve most certainly the possibility of failure and more surely the ridicule of lesser mortals.
Your opportunity is now. It is yours when the wind is against you and strongest; and the night at its darkest. With trust in God and with commitment to finish strong, it is surely time to wake up from despair and make your speech and life count.
If you organize your speech well, then it is easy for the audience to pick out the information you offer. You make listening easy by dividing your content into manageable packets. There are many popular methods to do so. Categorical and chronological arrangements are two such.
Many more ways of organizing content of your speech can be thought of. But the important thing to remember is that you need to cut the big cake to small pieces. And then offer them to your listeners so that they can have one piece at a time.
I Remember It Like Yesterday
The rule of thumb is to describe less but suggest more when you narrate your experiences. Then the audience will listen keenly to your speech and be more involved in it than otherwise. Memories do make speeches colourful.
Yet many of us forget to build a memory bank. Let not your hurts, nor your failures, nor your doubts, nor betrayals that you faced in life take away from you the zest for living. Yes, full participation in life; in its good, gives you great memories.
Then your speech will be spiced with them. And you’ll have an appreciative audience every time you speak.
How to Choose a Topic
Isn’t it interesting that how to choose a topic is itself a topic? Here are some ways tips to choose a topic:
First of all, focus on the audience you are going to talk to. What are their interests, needs, concerns, fears at this point in time? If you have some of these answered you will have a starting point.
Secondly, think about your knowledge, expertize, and areas of interest. Think about how it can be made relevant to the audience you are going to talk to.
Thirdly, think about recent happenings. What are things that are being talked about in the world or in your locality? What or who is making news headlines at this time? It can be in the world of politics, entertainment, sports and games or even climate change.
Again, there is yet another aspect you need to consider when you choose a topic. Do you have an interesting story to share? The story can be personal or it can even be a story you read in your childhood. If you have a compelling story to share, it can suggest you a topic.
Another sure shot way to choose a topic is start with universal themes like love, hate, war, peace, success, confidence etc. The canvas for such themes is huge. For example, You Can Overcome Loss of Confidence is a topic that can interest many; if not all.
Finally, when you choose the words of your topic let it me made lively, interesting, and having a punch. Something like “Never say die” would be good motivational stuff.
Body Language That Impresses Audiences and Win Their Hearts
No one can hold audiences spell bound without giving due attention to how he uses his body to communicate. It is proved beyond doubt that the way one uses one’s body to communicate can enhance the appeal of any message.
A raised arm, a sweeping movement, a bow, a playful raise of the eyebrows, a shrug of the shoulder, a pointed finger, a swift cut through the air, a bending forward while asking a question and then pause; all these are examples of powerful use of the body to emphasize, underline, and highlight what you say.
The power of a look has to be experienced to be believed. Your eyes can express a variety of emotions like love, anger, joy, playfulness and so on. More importantly it is your first connect with audiences. So use your eyes to maintain eye contact with the audience.
If it is a small group you can look at each individual once in a while. If it is a larger gathering, you will feel comfortable looking at one or two individuals in each segment of the large gathering whenever you turn in that direction.
This is your second connect with audiences. A smile can not only open the ears of people but also their hearts as well. It makes it easy for the audience to identify with you and also open up a dialogue with you. Sometimes you can get tensed during your presentation that you forget to smile. So remind yourself once in a while to smile.
I have seen many people lean on the lectern. This is not good. An erect posture not only communicates a sense of leadership and purpose; it also helps you to breathe normally. That helps in your voice production as well. And most people make the mistake of keeping their two feet together while they speak. This makes them look like a robot. Such a stance gives little room for spontaneous movement. Creativity is stifled.
Some people would like to hold on to the microphone or the lectern. It gives them a sense of security. Nothing wrong about it. At the same time one should know how not to deal with the arms on stage.
Crossed arms will distance you from the audience quite easily. Arms flying around will distract. Palms up are very weak. Any move of the hand to face is a signal to the audience that you are not at your confident best. So be bold in stretching out your arm and use gestures that will support, highlight, illustrate and make plain your content.
Formal occasions might not give you a chance to move around. But many speech situations will give you the possibility of moving on stage. Do not stay behind the lectern always. Why not step out to make a point and move back? If there is no lectern and you are holding a mike in your hand, gracefully walk into the midst of your audience to ask a question or to interact with them. Such moves are welcomed by the audience and will help them to connect with you in a deeper way.
A Speech Is Not Just About Words
A speech is not just about words. Though content is important; you the speaker through whom the message is delivered is also equally important. So make sure that you are able to impact the audience through the way you use your body to communicate!
Tips on How to Maintain Eye Contact for Beginner Speakers
Eyes can speak without words. It can express love, hate, anger, excitement and so on. Therefore it is the speakers best connect with audiences.
In spite of this fact many beginner speakers fear to look in the eye of people in the audience. They might look up or far away. This is self-defeating as the speaker loses rapport with the audience.
Now part of the problem is caused by feelings of inferiority or loss of confidence. But a larger part of the problem is because the beginning speaker lacks knowledge on what to do on stage to maintain healthy eye contact with audiences.
The basic thing to know is that people expect you to look at them. This shows your confidence, preparedness, openness, as well as your good intention to connect and engage with people sitting in front of you.
The second thing to note is the manner in which eye contact can and does happen. If it is a big audience just send your gaze to the back of the auditorium. Then let it scan towards the front. What you will probably see is a blur of faces. That is how it is.
Once that is done you can give sideways glances. This will make sure that you have the entire audience covered with your eye making contact with them. As you speak whenever you look to any one part of the auditorium you will feel as if your eyes are interlocking with one or a few people. Every time you turn in that direction your eyes will interlock with the same person or group (They may or may not be people known to you.). When this connect happens know that everyone in that part of the crowd feels included in your speech.
On the other hand when you are talking to a small group within a room make sure that you look at each person in the eye. If they are seated in a semi circle with you standing in the middle make sure that the people sitting at both ends of the curve are given due notice occasionally. Otherwise they will feel left out, lose interest in your speech, and maybe in the worst case go to sleep.
Having said that, do not gaze at any one person for too long. For 4 to 5 seconds can feel like an eternity when a speaker is looking at one person alone. Especially those who participate in Group Discussions should ensure that they do not engage in a one to one conversation too long. Instead break eye contact with the one to whom you are responding to and look at the entire group as you continue to speak.
Now coming to the positive side of eye contact; you should smile with your eyes. Let the audience know how delighted you are to be with them. As you exhibit ease and confidence through proper eye contact; you will feel the same reflected back to you in a magnified way from the audience.
As far as reading from manuscript is concerned, proper eye contact is the key to its success. You might have seen American Presidents do that in a thorough professional manner for their inaugural address. The secret is to look at a group of words and deliver them looking at the audience.
A well-prepared document in big point size with wide margins and typed in double space is a must for this. So also many rehearsals will make it look natural; full of energy and enthusiasm, and make it look stunningly confident.
Well, you may not have the expertize of a classical dancer to express a variety of moods with your eyes. But with a little practice you can show delight with a twinkling eye. A stare can communicate anger, hatred, resentment or rebellion. A far away look can signal disinterestedness, dejection, wishfulness or sadness. Yes the eyes can speak volumes without words.
Power Pack Your Presentations
No amount of talent or ability is of use until it goes through thorough preparation. The more you try to dig into a subject the more it becomes part of you. This process requires time, effort and patience. But its reward is confidence.
When you prepare for a twenty minute presentation have ready with you stuff for a one hour presentation. Even though you’ll not use the extra it shows on your face and the way you walk. It inspires confidence about you in the audience. And even before you open your mouth they feel an electric atmosphere in the air. They are ready to drink in every ounce of information that you give. What a moment!
But if you walk up there with barely 20 minutes of prepared material, it will be like trying to fly a hot air balloon which has got a huge tear in it. It will not lift at all.
2. Involve your audience
The audience is always on your side. So why not make best use of them. At the beginning of your presentation ask them one or two friendly questions. Motivate them to answer positively.
Or seek the cooperation of one or two members in the audience to do something for you. Perhaps help with the arrangements on stage or with materials that you’ll use. Or have a show of hands or make all of them say something out loud. If you can get to know a few person’s names, use them. The audience will be delighted.
Thus involving the audience at the beginning of your presentation will get them interested in you and in what you have got to say. Then your presentation will have already succeeded even before it ever began.
3. Have a few surprises
There is nothing boring than the predictable presentation. It is like a low-scoring cricket game. No fun. So plan your presentation differently. Make it interesting. Think from the shoes of the audience. What would they delight in? What information will be new to them? How can I package it so that they’ll grab it?
Remember kids reach out for the best packaged chocolates and soft drinks. The colourful and the attractive immediately catches attention. The art of packaging your content is crucial to have a wonderful presentation. It needs much thought, creativity and imagination.
Above all, a willingness to experiment and fail at times. And learn from it. Be sure that you’ve excellent content to back it up. Otherwise you’ll disappoint your audience after beginning well.
4. Manage your time wisely
Be there before scheduled time. See that all equipment is in place and ready to function once the presentation starts. Talk to a few in the audience. Get to know what programmes happened before your event. Get a feel of how the mood of the audience is at that point in time.
Start on time. Give a rough idea to the audience as to how much time each segment of your presentation will take. And towards the end (especially if you note that the attention element is going down in the audience), tell them that you’ll be finishing in another 7 or 10 minutes as the case may be.
Give them a clue as to what important thing you are going to tell during that time. Then they’ll eagerly listen forgetting their tiredness. As for you remember to stop on time as promised.
5. Be sure to add the icing
End your presentation on a high, positive, lively note. Then it is audience-time. Most often speakers fail to utilize the after-moments. They just leave.
But this is the time that you can utilize to mingle with the audience. Answer a few questions. Listen to feedback. And criticism too.
The value of these moments will not be visible. But you’ll surely know the difference it makes when you give the next presentation.
To Be Prepared with Your Speech Is the One Great Secret of Your Confidence
First of all realize that there is nothing pleasant or romantic about preparation. It is simply honest hard work. You might have to do it alone. No one might see you do all the toil. No one will applaud you.
Secondly, look at people who perform well. They make it feel that it all happens easily. Realize that it is so only because of the long hours and perhaps months and years of preparation. There is no substitute for it.
Thirdly, the secret is to simply start. Inspiration will follow. Do not wait eternally for inspiration. Often it comes as a result of hard work and not by waiting for it. For example, if you have decided on a topic to speak just take a sheet of paper and write the topic. Note down one or two thoughts that comes. It need not be perfect and it need not be the best. That doesn’t matter. What matters is you got started.
Fourthly, try to cover as much ground during preparation. For example, you are to prepare for a speech. You might be using only forty to fifty percent of all that you prepared for the actual speech. But then what is the importance of extensive preparation?
It helps you to improvise while you perform: As a speaker a new idea will come suddenly while you speak and you can go for it like Martin Luther King did. His “I have a dream segment” was not in the original written script but was the inspiration of that historic moment.
Similarly, you might have seen a batsman in cricket execute improvised shots with great effectiveness. This is the power to improvise you get out of preparation.
The fifth secret about preparation is anticipation. You need to think about all situations that can go wrong and be prepared for it. Let me give you real life examples. I have forgotten to take the notes I prepared for an important speech. I have faced power failure at night during speeches. During your preparation you should be able to foresee situations.
The sixth secret is rehearsal. The more the better. The moment should come when you feel you have had enough of it and you feel absolutely weak and nervous and almost unable to perform. Until that point rehearse and rehearse till you are dead tired and fed up with the whole exercise.
Finally, get some good sleep the day before your performance. Today’s preparation will help you in some future crisis. Then you will be thankful that you did all that hard work when you had the chance.
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