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How to Deliver a Strong Speech

By Zafira Stellios in HSC
20th of May 2021

An estimated 77% of the entire global population have this all consuming fear of public speaking. This phobia is called glossophobia and it is so common that people fear speaking in public more than they are terrified of heights, spiders and death.

I am not sure if you picked up on my use of the “Power of 3’ technique. You were probably in your own bubble of your public speaking experience (whether you were afraid or not). This idea of the power of three, is crucial to laying the foundation for a good speech. It is scientifically proven that audiences remember / pay attention to three things from speeches ; so it’s important that we understand our audience (and how they respond) so we can build the skill of delivering speeches.

I have collated my 3 top tips for delivering the best and most powerful speech – pun intended 🙂 – which will make you and your message unforgettable!

Yes, your words are a present, But are you?

 While your speech is the wrapped gift itself, it’s important to understand our own head before we begin planting seeds of knowledge into our audience. I use the Daily Calm 10 Minute Meditation Videos on Youtube  to be present myself.

I really like the video called “Monkey Mind Meditation”  , because it discusses how thoughts swing from one to another, like monkeys on a vine. This means our head is usually dizzy from the vast amount of thoughts that are erratically swinging around our head.

When delivering a speech, it is super common for people to just be saying the words, in a hurry to finish saying them. To get it over and done with. However, that is not how you deliver a speech. You need to be mentally present for your audience.

This means you are completely aware of your speech and the people listening. This means focusing on one sentence at a time, without having to worry about jumping to the next. It is not a race. You, having calm thoughts that are solely focused on one thing at a time, allows your speech to be delivered clearly and effectively. If your thoughts are rushing, your words will interrupt each other and everything will sound jumbled. When you are clear with your words, pronouncing every word audibly and slowly, allows the audience to remember you and your speech. This doesn’t mean talking at 0.5 – 1x speed, rather it is about speaking (and pausing!!!) in a conversational manner.

You need to allow the audience time to process and understand what you are saying. Racing through your speech, because your thoughts are racing, doesn’t facilitate a connection with the audience.

It is important that you give them time to think about what you’re saying, so they can implement your words into their reality.

Your Mirror And Your Phone Are The Bread And Butter to Speeches!

 Just a disclaimer : this will be something you have already heard before →

In order to deliver a brilliant speech, you need to practise! You need to practise until your speech lingers in your dreams …. Essentially you need to practise a lot!

Nothing is worse if someone is saying a speech for the first time, in front of an audience, with anxiety, nerves and mistakes. Cue a vast spike in glossophobia statistics.

It is inevitable that the first time you say your speech, you will speed through it. You will also pronounce words wrong or forget a few. This is completely normal, and something that should be embraced amongst the mirror and the borders of your timer app on your phone.

One week before the delivery date of your speech, you need to practise it out loud, before you go to sleep. It’s really crucial to hear how you say your speech. Not only are you the storyteller, you will simultaneously become the audience. This is important because it will allow your brain to cement your speech in your long term memory (Fun Fact : Meditation also improves memory!! So, you’ll be on your way to kill two birds with one stone 🙂 ). I used to read my speeches out loud, standing up straight in front of my mirror, around 3-5 times each night before I went to sleep. I had my phone on my bed, and my eyes fixated on the ‘audience’.

Let’s say my speech was due to be presented on a Friday. By Tuesday, my brain will have cemented my speech and all of my delivery aspects : including my pausing, my hand gestures, my expression, my tone and my confidence.

By the time Friday arrived, my brain was so accustomed to delivering this speech that it naturally assumed it was another rehearsal. When in fact, it was the real deal! The thing is, because I was prepared, I wasn’t anxious about what I would sound like. Nor was I stuck from the negative ‘what if’ thoughts that flood my head.

Rather I was collected, worry free and ready. Eager to say my speech. You will be too!!

Nothing is more admirable and powerful than asserting your words with confidence. This confidence only flourish if you have practised. So start your timer : see how you go. Watch yourself in the mirror, so you can reflect and improve next time.

Owning Your Stage!

 This is the hardest part : the part of public speaking that engulfs 77% of the world.

The seconds before you actually start speaking.

This means that you are in the centre of the stage (or wherever the lectern is). This positioning allows you to be salient : the first thing that people see. It also allows you to connect with all audience members. If you were to close your eyes and picture someone standing on the left of the stage to deliver a speech, their eyes would naturally stick to the left side of the audience. They would be neglecting you on the right side, which would destroy this connection between the audience and the words. Your speech in its entirety, is impactful to all sides of the audience. Your central position holds power.

Additionally, owning your stage means your posture is tall ; your slumped body language will weigh you down. It’s important to show the audience that your speech will energise them ; straightening their attitude and lengthening their actions. The audience will feed off your energy. It’s important that you hold yourself strong and tall, to capture them. This posture will allow your voice to fill the room, as opposed to being indecipherable mumbles.

This stance consists of :

Shoulders back.

An unclenched jaw.

A relaxed forehead.

3 Deep belly breaths.

Feet hip width apart, like roots in the ground. Steady and Unwavering. This doesn’t mean swaying or rocking or shaky legs. This stance of strength emulates that your words have power, and thus are deserving of your audience’s attention!

And lastly Eye contact, not a quick glance at the audience : a soulful stare (not in a creepy way) to make the audience feel one, with you and your words.

While I don’t believe I have instantly cured the 77% of people who fear delivering speeches, I know that these methods to deliver an effective speech, work. And they work well. These tips are things that I had to learn the hard way, and now that I have applied them to my speeches, I no longer panic when my name is called to deliver my speech. I want to be able to reassure you that this overwhelming fear is not forever ; and you’re not alone. These tips will help you take more control of your fear of public speaking, and as a result your words will be more resonating. You will feel more proud of yourself, after you have delivered your speech. I guarantee it!

If walls could speak, they would not be able to stop talking about how amazing your delivery is!

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