5 essential elements of a great speech

Have you ever been completely mesmerized by a speaker that can captivate an audience and hold their attention for seemingly endless amounts of time? What is it about these wizards of words that gets people to pay attention? For many, it’s their ability to create and present an effective and memorable speech. Here are a few ways that YOU too can write that kind of speech:

1. Practice to the point where you won’t need a script

For many people, a script is a speech-killer. The more comfortable you are with just talking about your topic without any notes or aids, the more people will trust your credibility. If having a notecard is absolutely essential to you, whether it’s because you have a bad memory or are more nervous without one, try to put it somewhere you can see it, but your audience can’t. And practice sneaking glances in a subtle manner so your audience can’t see you cheating – it will affect your audience’s level of trust more than you think. The key is to sound spontaneous, but having a plan at the same time.

2. Body language is absolutely necessary

Pay attention to everything you do on stage – according to this article that discusses a study done on TED talks, people form their first impression of you in the first seven seconds. So, even as you walk on stage, keep good posture and a friendly expression on your face so people will immediately perceive you as approachable and credible. During your speech, “work” the stage – walk around, use lots of hand gestures, and smile!

3. Jump right in with your attention-grabbing anecdote

Don’t start off by thanking/talking about the presenter, introducer or event (unless it is for an award ceremony, etc.) – jump right into your attention-grabber. This will show your audience how excited you are to talk about your topic. Many will expect you to go onstage with pleasantries – do the unexpected!

4. Avoid visual aids if you can

Sometimes visual aids can help a speech, but at times they are a cop-out and draw attention away from the speaker. If you want people to remember you and what you say, let yourself be the only visual they need or just use images that lend a feeling or emotion to your words rather than show series of bullet points on screen.

5. Try to involve the audience as much as possible

Whether you are sticking around for questions after your speech or pointing out to people in the audience to include them in your speech, make sure you are not just talking to the air around you. People tend to pay attention more when they feel they are a part of a bigger conversation instead of just being talked to. You can also use you-focused language or ask the audience rhetorical questions. Just make sure you and the audience are ‘in it’ together!

Giving great speeches takes practice and perfection and practice again. One day, with these five tips, you will be the one on stage captivating an audience.

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