Delivering your speech
Pro Speech features
With your Pro Speech, you have been provided with personalized notes on when to use gestures and pausing and varying the pitch, speed, and volume of your voice in specific points within your speech. Using these will help you to deliver your speech with great impact.
The all-important time between getting called up to the microphone and receiving applause. These are the all-important minutes that you have waited for. You have rehearsed your words, vocal variety, and gestures. So now, what's important to remember when we are delivering them?
Before you begin
You have put in a lot of effort to get ready to deliver your speech. There are some points to keep in mind so you are fully prepared.
As soon as you can, check the room, place, and situation you will be speaking in. If possible, ask your inviter or search the area online to familiarise yourself with your environment ahead of time, including whether you are on a stage, using a microphone, or behind a lectern. This will lessen the risk of being confronted with unforeseen circumstances, and it may help in understanding how best to deliver your speech. For example, if you are in a large room with a lectern, you will have less flexibility in terms of movement and your facial expressions may need to be emphasized to be visible.
Carry a spare copy of your speech separately. Have your partner or another carry it with you, just in case!
Staying hydrated and away from too much alcohol will prevent you from forgetting what you have memorized and from getting a "lip-smacking" noise due to a dry mouth. Keep water nearby when you're speaking, and remain focused on what you are doing by saving the booze for after your speech.
At the Start
Feeling nervous is common for every speaker, no matter how experienced. In fact, you can put this nervous energy to work for you by using it to add excitement to the delivery of your talk. As you move further into your speech and become focused on your delivery and your audience, your nervousness is likely to dissipate.
As you place your notes on the lectern or are about to begin, take a few deep breaths, pause momentarily to allow you and your audience to transition to being ready to hear your speech, then plunge in with your prepared opening sentences.
If you are speaking behind a lectern, we recommend placing your hands comfortably on the top of the lectern. It is generally a comfortable position and allows you to use your hands to gesture without having your hands hidden behind the lectern. Standing next to the lectern is also a good option if you are confident, if the event is casual in nature, and if this is achievable with the microphone setup. Holding onto your notes and holding them up off the lectern is not recommended as it may suggest to the audience that your focus is on your notes.
If you are speaking without a lectern or using a small note stand, we recommend speaking with your hands simply by your side. Clasping hands and fiddling implies tension and nervousness. Folded arms or hands in pockets can suggest a guarded or disinterested demeanor respectively. The "hands by side" approach will feel awkward at first, so make sure to rehearse as much as you need to feel confident. Use gestures (see delivery) with the hands-by-side approach will ensure the audience feels that your speech delivery is both confident and natural.
Good stance and posture say a lot to your audience about how confident you are, even if that is not the case! Practice standing tall with your hands by your side and your feet firmly planted at shoulder width. Distribute your weight evenly across your feet and avoid swaying or changing your stance excessively as these distract your audience from what you’re saying and show a lack of confidence. Lift your chest, roll your shoulders back and relax them. This stand shows power and confidence, which is what you want to project to your audience.
While speaking, make eye contact with members of the audience, first looking directly at one person for a few seconds, then looking at another, so no one feels left out of your talk. This staggered style of eye contact suggests confidence and shows your audience that you personally addressing them individually instead of talking at them. You may find that you look more at one particular side of the room or on only a few people. Try to recognize this and direct your attention to everyone so the whole audience is engaged.
The more you look at your audience, the more involved they will feel in your speech, and that leads us to Notes.
Use what works for you. Whether your notes are in dot points, palm cards or the complete speech, each of us are going to feel comfortable with a particular option (our Speechwriter-In-Chief always uses a complete speech, just in case!). Many speakers begin by writing out an entire speech, then breaking it down into parts with a key word for each part, and finally writing just the key words on one note card. You may not use anything at all for short, simple speeches.
If you choose to use your entire speech as your notes, we recommend not writing your speech all the way to the bottom of the page or carrying sentences or paragraphs over separate pages. Otherwise, you may look too far down or concentrate too much on your notes, and you may lose eye contact and your connection with your audience.
If you have practiced your speech and know it inside-out, dot points may be easier to use. But, if this is not the case, it could be dangerous to use anything other than the complete speech. Some say the complete speech encourages reading-out-loud, so keep this in mind as you rehearse and deliver your speech.
Don't worry if you miss a joke, miss a bit of your speech, or forget that ad hoc part you thought of moments before the speech. It is bound to happen. But, no matter. Let's aim to deliver 95% of your speech as per the plan.
If you make a mistake in your speech, don't apologize. This is common when speakers are nervous about how the audience responds to their speech. Instead, just say what you originally meant to say followed by "rather". This will lend authority and confidence to your actual meaning.
To Sum Up
An engaged and interested audience is the goal of delivering any speech. By starting correctly, and using your notes and eye contact correctly throughout your speech, you will achieve this, and your confidence as a speaker will grow.