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No matter how much you avoid it, at some point in your life, you will have to make a speech. And even if there are various types of English speeches you can make, they all share a common goal, which is to efficiently communicate with your audience so well that you make an impact.
To do this, you need to have your audience hooked on to every word you say. Moreover, a live speech is all about establishing a positive relationship. Your audience has to relate to you. But you can’t do this if you don’t understand who your audience is and what they’re looking for.
Have 2 objectives in mind before you write your speech-
- Why should they listen to you?
- What should they take away from your speech?
Intrigued as to how to accomplish this? Read on and you will find out!
1. What does your audience want to hear?
Always remember, create something that you would listen to.
Have you ever sat for a speech where you don’t want to hear what the speaker is talking about? What do you do in such a situation? Does your mind wander off? Do you go back to thinking when they will pause or stop talking?
- Now, if you are the speaker, you need to avoid this at all costs! How? Sometimes you can choose an engaging topic. To do this, thoroughly research ideas relevant to the theme. But you can’t always hook your audience solely through the topic.
- If you can’t choose such a topic, don’t worry. The topic choice isn’t always in your control, but the speech is. Since you can’t help the situation, strive to have a balance between what your audience wants to hear and what you want to say. For instance, in a political speech, you might want to say ‘why your party should receive votes’ while your audience wants to hear ‘what will your party do for us?’
- Understand that your audience is not obligated to listen to you. Hence, you need to give them a reason to do that.
- The key is to write a speech that meets both sets of needs without solely focusing on one. This would save your audience from disappointment and you from embarrassment.
2. Keep it short and crisp
Sometimes a speech is so good you feel like the person could talk for hours and you would listen. But would you really? No.
For an assessment, if you have been tasked to deliver a 5-10 minute speech, it’s better to have it near to the 5 rather than the 10-minute mark. The reason for this is you are likely to take longer while making the speech rather than reading it.
However, this shouldn’t limit the points that you want to cover. To avoid this-
- Write all your points down in your first draft. Then cut down the unnecessary points or shorten them.
- Use the ‘so what’ analysis to understand which points should make it to your final speech. This simply suggests asking the question ‘so what‘ after every point you make. The practice will help you make your speech crisp and to the point.
- As a speaker, you may not always understand what points are unnecessary because they all seem important. Hence, become your own audience. Ask questions to understand if your point makes sense and if it gets you to the conclusion fast enough.
3. Speak slowly and clearly
Most people speak rather quickly in everyday life. So on stage, it’s normal if you talk faster than that if you’re nervous. But let’s be honest, will anybody understand your English speech if you are babbling it out? You don’t want all your efforts to go to waste. Hence, speaking slowly is a great way to convey your message.
Luckily you, it is rather easy to fix this with a little practice and effort-
- The first thing you need to do is figure out how fast you actually speak. Check the word count of your speech and time yourself saying it. A fast speaker would say around 160 words per minute, a slow speaker 100 words per minute, and an average speaker would say 130 words per minute.
- The ideal words per minute to be spoken may vary depending on the culture and environment but 120 words per minute is a reasonable target.
- To make this easier, think you’re talking to a very old and partially deaf person. You get one shot at conveying your message to them so remember, slow and steady wins the race!
4. Look around the room
Let’s be honest, eye contact can be awkward. Especially when you’re up on the stage addressing a large audience with a motivational speech.
- Some speakers deal with this by picking a middle point in the far distance and focusing there.
- Others focus on a particular person to look at and address their entire speech to them. This would obviously be no fun for that person and they are likely to spend most of the speech wondering if you’re looking at them or the person next to them. But it won’t be weird for you and everyone else.
- However, we have a better way to go about this – try to look around the room slowly while trying to make eye contact with a decent amount of people. Be natural and casual about your eye contact but make sure to look around every few seconds.
5. Pay attention to your non-verbal gestures
Remember – your nonverbal moments are as important as your speech itself. Maintaining good eye contact with your audience will give them the impression of being addressed directly.
This will most likely get their attention because they don’t want it to look like their mind has wandered off.
It’s also important you maintain a good posture while talking. Keep your chin up, and your shoulders back. Walk like you own the place even if you’re nervous. People will only know you’re nervous if you show it through nonverbal cues.
6. Don’t be afraid of a good reaction
If your speech is genuinely engaging, funny, and also inspiring, your audience will react to it. You can expect applause, laughter, or even cheering if your friends are a part of the audience.
This could be daunting as no mirror practice can prepare you for it. And this is where even the best speakers can fumble. They make the mistake of launching straight into what they were about to say next without waiting for the reaction to end.
But how do you know when the audience will react?
- Well, when you are preparing for your speech think about how you would react to certain statements.
- Additionally, you can also take a 2 or 3-second pause after you complete a chunk of what you are saying. This will give them time to react and process and also give you a breather. While you take this pause you can see if they begin to clap and laugh.
- Remember the bandwagon effect – if one person in the audience claps, two people start clapping, and eventually, everyone starts following suit.
While this reaction is on, avoid looking awkwardly at the audience. Instead, you can smile and look around the room. Appreciate your effort because that reaction is for the words you have said.
FAQs for English speech
Q 1. How can I deal with stage fright during my English speech?
Answer– You need to prepare mentally and also physically to conquer this fear. To prepare mentally – understand your material and don’t by heart it. This way if you forget something you won’t be stuck. To prepare physically – warm up your body and breathe, it will be okay!
Q 2. How do I overcome the tendency to say ‘um’ and ‘uh’?
Answer– It’s natural even for the best of speakers to stumble, stutter and hesitate. Make a conscious effort to avoid saying ‘uh’ and ‘um’ by understanding when you say it. Hence, you will catch yourself before and avoid it. If you do end up saying it, don’t panic, focus on the energy you put out. Also, talking passionately about your topic will bring out that your ‘um’ shows less stuttering and more excitement.
Q 3. What is more important – content or delivery of speech?
Answer– They are both equally important as content and delivery go hand-in-hand. If your delivery is terrible, even the best content would go to waste. And if your delivery is great but your content doesn’t seem relevant, it will just be motivational nonsense. So focus on both and begin practicing!
Key takeaways for your English speech
- Structure your speech according to the purpose.
- Engage your audience with a unique story that is relevant to your English speech topic.
- You can also ask questions and report statistics related to your topic.
- Repetition is a powerful tool if used right. Since the audiences absorb just a small portion of what they hear, it’s a good way to put your point across.
- Listen to speeches delivered by eminent speakers and take inspiration from them.
- Think as your audience thinks. So you can write a speech that you as an audience would want to hear.
- Lengthy speeches can get boring, so keep them short and to the point.
- Be clear with your point and words. Go slow and complete your sentences.
- Make eye contact with everyone in the room.
- Stand straight and keep your chin up, you’re doing good!
- Smile at your audience when they clap and also laugh at something you say.
These are all the tips and tricks we have for you for your English speech. But if you have any doubts you can reach out to us with any questions.
OR you can also comment below!
See you in the next blog!