A Good Speech
Posted: November 11, 2011
A friend who I had not heard from for some time called me recently in a panic. As part of his job as a manager for a computer firm, he was scheduled to make a presentation to his superiors the next morning. He called me because he remembered that I was the calm orator while in school. It was apparent that he needed my help.
The first thing I asked my friend was, "What joke are you going to tell?"
He replied, "Are you nuts? I can't be telling jokes. This is a serious presentation!"
I explained that every good speech must include a joke, especially if the subject matter is rather borning. In fact, I have never given a speech without at least one good attempt at humor. I figure that the worst case scenario is that I screw up the presentation, but at least I made them laugh and they remember me.
I suggested he call me back when he has thought of a good joke to tell during his presentation.
After our brief conversation, I began to think about the little things that can make or break an important speech. First of all, it's imperative that the speaker is well-versed on the subject to be discussed. It would be extrememly difficult to give a good presentation if the speaker didn't know what he/she is talking about.
One of the notable faults of mine when giving a speech about a familiar subject is that I talk too fast. It's always best to try to pace one's self when speaking to an audience, especially if the material is complex.
Next, when preparing for a speech, try not to memorize. It's much better to jot down some key phrases that allow you to transition to the next thought. I usually make out an outline, similar to writing a paper.
Never read a speech and always look up at your audience with a smile. (Even if you are a nervous wreck while speaking in public, one should always at least look like you're having a good time).
Lastly, if the event includes a power point presentation, slide projector or video production, it would be best to have an assistant on hand to help with the equipment. I would never trust myself operating machines to assist me with my presentation and nothing ruins a great speech like a technological glitch.
When my friend called me back an hour later, he practiced his joke. It wasn't very funny, but it didn't matter. The audience will remember him - one way or another.