This is a summary of a workshop given at the Area Competition in April 2011. Whenever you put together a speech, the first and most important thing to consider is who is in your audience, and what do they want or need from your talk. This will give you the strategies you need to ensure your talk hits home every time.

Fail to plan – plan to fail. Preparation is everything and is time well spent. Having prepared well, this will give you greater confidence to think about all the other aspects of delivery, such as voice pitch, body language, eye contact, etc.

What is the topic?  You may have been asked to speak on a certain topic or you may have to choose. Make sure it is appropriate for your audience and what they want to hear. A best man’s speech that reveals too much can be a disaster at a wedding, for example.

Start with the end in sight. What is the purpose of your talk? The purpose will determine the content and style of delivery. This could be to:

  • Inform
  • Educate
  • Entertain
  • Inspire
  • Convince

Objective setting. By the end of your talk, what do you want the audience to be able to do that they couldn’t do at the start? Try and be audience focused. An example might be: by the end of my talk, the audience will be inspired to prepare and deliver better speeches.

Know your audience. If possible, find out as much about your audience and their needs as possible. Think about their WIIFM factor (What’s In It For Me). What will be the benefit to them to listen to your speech? Focus on what they need to hear, rather than what you want to tell them.

Structure. Have a clear start/middle/end – that’s the easy bit. Tell them what you will tell them – tell them and tell them what you have told them. Make a good strong start to grab attention, establish your credibility and why they should listen.

Diversity. We all take in information in different ways and have preferred learning styles. Try to meet these differences by providing variety.

  • Include necessary facts and detail
  • Be structured, have a good logical flow and stick to time
  • Use a range of emotions, stories and anecdotes
  • Make it enjoyable, visual, concise and creative

And finally, end with a bang, not a whimper. Have a strong finish, which has action. If you put your audience first, meet their needs and expectations, then they will love you for it and put you first.

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