BY DR. HUME JOHNSON
To deliver a speech well, there are a few essential things that you must ne doing. Simply having a great written speech is not enough. It’s your delivery which will make it resonate with the audience. Last week, the students in my Speech class were practicing at the podium for a formal speech assessment. We used the opportunity to make note of the crucial elements of good speech delivery. As you prepare to deliver your next speech, be sure to illustrate and exhibit these eight ingredients in order to capture your audience, hold their attention and for your delivery to be on point!
1. Sound Conversational
In order to be believable and to win the attention of your audience, it is important to speak in a conversational style. To sound conversational, pretend as if you are delivering your speech to only one person such as your grandmother or a respected friend. Instead of reading to your audience word for word what’s on your script, try to simply talk to them. Connect with them in the same way you would telling a story about an event in your day to a close friend.
2. Project Your Voice
You must attempt to project your voice and sustain this projection throughout your presentation. Some people have a naturally soft voice. Others have been conditioned to speak in very low tones. However, persons at the back of the room should still be able to hear you even without a microphone. Projecting your voice is not the same as shouting. The voice is produced by the control of breath from the diaphragm. This breath allows the voice volume and the ability to carry in a large room. Resist the temptation to sink into a low tone. Projecting your voice gives force to your speech, shows your personality and makes you appear more confident.
3. Make Eye Contact
It is incredibly important to connect with the people who are talking to. The most effective way is at first to make eye contact with them. Do not stare at one person, but make your eyes wander around the room as you speak. A good technique which I have used is to focus my eyes on the left of the room (left focus), then right of the room (right focus) and then to the middle of the room (centre focus). My most important points and the beginning and end of my speech are usually centre focus. Eye contact says you are confident, you know what you are talking about, you are aiming to connect and engage with audience.
4. Pace Yourself
Some folks speak way too fast. Others speak in a slow pedantic fashion which is likely to bore their audience. Pace yourself. This means try not to speak too fast or too slow. For naturally fast speakers, slow down and ensure that the audience hears and understand what you saying. For slower speakers, my advice is to pick up the pace a bit. Show your personality; be animated and the audience will become engaged with you as well.
It is important to use your hands, in the same way you would when having a normal conversation. With a podium, some people simply hang on to it and forget to use their hands. To gesticulate offers naturalness; it makes you seem more comfortable and you will appear more confident to your audience. Resist the urge to hug the podium. Let go.
6. Have Good Posture
Posture and body language are essential to good speech delivery. Stand straight, imagine that each vertebrae in your spine sitting on top of each other and your head on top of the last vertebrae. Try not to slouch, or to dance. This will be distracting to your audience. Aim for an erect, confident posture.
7. Be Confident
Confidence is the core element of effective speech delivery. Watch some speech samples on Youtube and pay attention to what great speakers have in common. They are usually confident and engaging. If you are not naturally confident, pretend that you are. Fake it til you make it. The more you project, exhibit a confident air, the more it will become like second nature to you. Go ahead, try it, and tell me the results.
8. Speak Passionately
Finally, invest your speech with passion. Be excited about your topic; show your enthusiasm, Do not be afraid to laugh, smile, become animated while delivering your speech. Be yourself. I promise the audience will connect more with you than if you stand there stiff reading from a script. They have come to hear you and to engage with the person you are. Show them.
These are the top 8 things that I believe you should be doing if you wish to make an excellent and engaging delivery. Good luck. Put them into practice and let us know how you go!