How should I prepare for public speaking?

Giving a speech: 9 ingenious tips for the perfect speech

To be able to give a good speech is an art. But a learnable one. Luckily! After all, speaking in public in front of an audience is a key qualification for success. If you did not have this talent in the cradle, you have come to the right place. We'll show you numerous practical tips and proven presentation techniques with which you can captivate and inspire your audience and give a convincing speech ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

What types of speech are there?

Speech is not the same as speech. The occasion makes the content. Those who are aware of this in advance will give the better lecture. Professionals differentiate between four general types of speech:

  • Special occasion speech (Wedding, birthday, farewell)
  • Casual speech (Impromptu speech, dinner speech, greeting)
  • Information speech (Meeting, customer presentation, works meeting)
  • Persuasion speech (Opening, congress keynote, debate, podium)

The speaking time varies depending on the occasion, the target group and the size of the stage. You should adapt your speaking style and presentation techniques accordingly.

The 4 phases of a speech

Regardless of whether you are giving a (spontaneous) free speech or using a sophisticated speech manuscript: A successful presentation usually follows a classic structure in four phases (see SCQA method):

  1. introduction
    The beginning of the speech is about getting attention and interest. So start with a bang, a surprising statement or thesis. You can also involve the audience directly at the start - for example with small surveys. The decisive factor is relevance: The most entertaining speech becomes worthless if the audience doesn't care about the core message. The aim of the introduction is to create dramaturgy and tension.
  2. Bulk
    After the audience is won and curious, you get to the heart of the speech. Increase the problem that the listeners have. Describe possible connections and complications. Or ask questions that everyone is asking. This creates more height and helps the audience to better classify your solutions and recommendations.
  3. Examples
    Garnish the lecture with one or two personal stories and anecdotes that underline the topic. This is how theory becomes clear practice. That convinces and arouses emotions. If you can't find a suitable anecdote, do it like most comedians do: connect the topic to something from everyday life.
  4. Enough
    The final part is the punch line, the resolution and the finale of your hero's journey. In short: the quintessence. As a rule, you should limit yourself to a maximum of three core messages. Nobody remembers more. Repeat important points and summarize them. Finally, formulate a call to action for the audience. That's better than thanking them for your attention.

If you keep this scheme in mind and use it as a reminder, you can even prevent blackouts.

Giving a speech: 9 tips for the perfect speech

“The human brain is a great thing. It works until you get up to give a speech. ”- The amusing quote from Mark Twain shows that even great writers have their problems with speaking freely. Professional presentations are not rocket science. You always start with thorough preparation and use numerous proven presentation tips.

Whether a moody wedding speech, Address on the 50th birthday or farewell to a colleague: What counts is that you stay positive and provide inspiration to take away. The tips below show you how to deliver a perfect speech.

  1. introduction

    The introduction to the speech is your calling card - and perhaps the most important part of the speech. An engaging speech begins with great emotions, with a relationship to the audience, similarities, shared experiences or an exciting journey of thought (“Imagine ...”, “Assume ...”). You can also open the speech by asking questions. Mini-surveys of the type “Who of you traveled by train today?” Actually increase interaction.

  2. Body language

    You know that you shouldn't cross your arms in front of your body. Active body language makes every presentation livelier. You can even keep one hand in your pocket. As long as you gesticulate appropriately with the other arm.

  3. voice

    In addition to content and body language, the voice is the most important tension factor in the lecture: the more precisely you support statements with voice pitch and volume, the better the audience will remember it. For example, amazing facts come across as even more amazing if you sound surprised to yourself. The variation of the pitch also prevents monotonous and boring performance.

  4. language

    Main things belong in main clauses! If possible, do not use any relative clauses and certainly no nested clauses. Main sentences with no more than ten words alone are convincing. Like this one. Repetitions are allowed. They even increase the memory effect. And emphasize the verbs as you speak. Most speakers put emphasis on nouns. Not correct! Verbs, especially active ones, are more stimulating to the brain.

  5. Technical terms

    Complicated expressions and incomprehensible technical jargon should often appear competent. But they do the opposite. The audience tunes out. Avoid technical terms and replace them with understandable explanations. A loose paraphrase or phrase will not pulverize your credibility, but loosen up the lecture. Everything in moderation, of course. A regular table speech should also not turn into a specialist topic.

  6. humor

    Not everyone is born to be an entertainer. But a speech must not remain too dry. A pinch of humor here, a sophisticated joke there: With dosed laughter you not only win the sympathy of the audience - you loosen up, increase the memory effect and prevent boredom. Self-irony and situation comedy work best. They look particularly authentic.

  7. Foils

    Most PowerPoint presentations are cluttered. Too much information, too many effects. Less is more. Focus on a maximum of three, better just one, key message per slide. Professionals even use just one word. The rest happens on the soundtrack. That generates maximum attention.

  8. connection

    Do not act as the solo entertainer. A study by Seattle Pacific University was able to show that attention drops drastically after ten minutes. So give the audience a short break every ten minutes - by addressing them directly or exchanging ideas. For example, ask questions and answer them in the lecture. You can also generate approval or understanding through rhetorical means. Example: "You probably know what it is like when ..." The interaction keeps the interest awake and demonstrably ensures a better understanding.

  9. Eye contact

    Never just read! Maintain as much eye contact with the audience as possible. In this way you captivate people more and appear more confident at the same time. A trick against stage fright: Find friendly faces in the audience - and look at them often. In large halls, the spectators sitting around will also feel that they are being looked at. And: smile as often as possible. Studies show that speakers who smile more often appear more intelligent than persistently serious expressions.

Speech Checklist: Avoid these speech traps

As with everything, there are a few detailed traps lurking in speech. Often it is not the presentation errors at all, but rather the framework conditions that mutate into speech traps. Many a speech has failed because, for example, the technology failed. Or there are acoustic pitfalls: a hall filled with 70 people requires different acoustics through loudspeakers than a conference room with ten employees. If you can influence it, you should definitely discuss it beforehand - even better, test it.

Speakers should keep these points in mind:

  • microphone
    Do you prefer to speak freely and do you enjoy moving around on stage? Then you should ask the organizer for a headset. But at least a wireless microphone. If, on the other hand, you are shy and prefer to hold on to something, look for a standing desk with a fixed microphone.
  • Aids
    Make sure that everything you need is there: flipchart, pens, projector, laptop, laser pointer, possibly cables, adapters and spare batteries.
  • Handouts
    Depending on how extensive and instructive (in the literal sense of the word) the speech is supposed to be, it makes sense to give the audience something to take along - so-called handouts, for example. They should always be self-explanatory. So if you keep your presentation slides rather short and only pepper them with symbolic images, you have to add some explanatory text here.

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January 28, 2021Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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