Writing A Speech

You've been asked to give a speech and you're scared stiff. Follow these simple steps and you'll be a pro in no time.

So, you have to give a speech? Maybe it's been years since that speech class in high school or college, perhaps you've never had to speak in front of an audience before. First, let's focus on what to say and then we'll focus on overcoming stage fright.

You'll want to write out your speech as if it were an essay. You'll need an introduction. Statements that are surrounded by supporting facts and a recap or conclusion. Let's begin by making an outline. We'll use the job hunting process as an example. You're outline might look something like this:

Getting a Job

I. How to find job openings

A. Advertisements in newspapers and trade magazines

B. Online job resources

C. Networking

II. The resume

A. Assembling your work history and references

B. Resume styles

C. The cover letter

III. The interview

A. What to wear

B. What to expect

C. What to say and what to ask

Now you can develop each of these items into full-blown sentences. After you're satisfied with the written copy, read it aloud to edit for flow and sound. Your next step is to ask someone to listen to you read your speech and give you advice and criticism. Don't be over sensitive. Another person can give you the feedback you need to make this an exemplary speech. At this point we are just reading for clear information and good wording.

Once you are happy with a final draft of your speech, begin reading it to yourself in the mirror, looking up as much as possible. This will build your confidence and get you ready to present your speech to an audience. Once you are comfortable with the speech, you may want to revert to using only an expanded outline on notochords, as this will keep you from looking at your paper the entire speech. It'' very important to make lots of eye contact when giving a speech - or at least appear to.

You've probably heard the advice to pretend your audience id wearing funny clothes or no clothes. Another trick is to look above the level of the audience - focusing on the back wall. You'll appear to be making eye contact, but you won't be distracted by the eyes looking back at you.

You want to make a good impression with your speaking abilities and the most important thing you can do is practice, practice, practice. Rehearse your speech until you are completely comfortable with it, even ask several others to listen to you give the speech as practice. Be completely comfortable and familiar with your planned words. Use language that is natural to you. Do your homework and research and make sure all your thoughts are fully developed.

You may also need to edit your speech for time. When frightened, people tend to speak very fast. Make a conscious effort to slow down and enunciate each word carefully. Time your speech several times to make sure it isn't too short or too long. Just be prepared and get up there and do your best. You'll be amazed at how easy it will seem once you get going, especially if you are speaking about a subject close to your heart. Glance around at the audience afterwards - you've made a real difference. You should be proud.

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