So You Have To Give A Speech? Here’s How To Ace It
Keep your nerve and deliver a killer speech with these golden rules of public speaking.

June 6, 2011

How to ace your speech

Best man at your mate’s wedding? Got a big presentation coming up? The recipient of an award at an upcoming ceremony? Whether you’re a bundle of nerves or ooze confidence, public speaking can be daunting. Here are some simple tips to help you ace your speech.

Make Speech Crib Notes

Your notes should be big enough to read at a glance and try listing three things in a row. Write the words in block capitals and different colours so you’re given an instant memory trigger. Practise your speech with the same notes you’re going to use on the day so you’re familiar with them. Don’t be afraid of repeating your key point several times – people will remember the stuff you repeat. Just don’t go overboard or you’ll look like an idiot.

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Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

Think you’re slick? Rehearse it again – at least six times. Reality could always do with a polish. When you think that you’ve got your speech completely nailed, tape yourself as you perform it to a friend, then play it back a few times to see where the problem areas are.

Keep It Short & Sweet

As a rule, keep anecdotes to no more than a minute – if it takes any longer than that to get across it’s too complicated and you’ll lose your audience’s attention. Pause for a second at the end of each point you make. This is the single best way to eliminate “umming and aahing”, as it lends a real sense of control: everyone will be hanging on your next word. Unless that word is “um” or “ah”.

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To avoid your voice breaking into a falsetto, try humming for a full minute before you start your speech. Humming at your natural speaking pitch brings your voice to a natural level and stops you speaking with all the gravitas of a eunuch.

An Apple A Day

Eat a Granny Smith or a similarly sour apple, just before you speak. Nerves can dry out your mouth, but the acidity in this tart fruit stimulates saliva production, keeping your talk crisp and fluid. Conversely, you should skip the coffee (caffeine dries out your mouth faster than sand and will make you extra jittery). Also, try to stay away from milk, yoghurt and ice cream – dairy products turn saliva as thick as soup, making you sound more nasal than if you had a peg on your snoz – not the best sound if you’re trying to ace your speech.

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