Speeches Make Me a Ball of Nerves…
I don’t really like public speaking. In fact, I’m not good at it and it makes me super nervous. Writing a speech isn’t really the problem. I’m not a great speech writer, but I could write one fairly quickly. Practicing it and actually being good at the delivery is something else. I wrote the MOH speech for my best friend’s wedding a few weeks ago. I’ve practiced it a few times, but pretty much procrastinated. Her wedding is tomorrow and I am definitely not ready for giving the speech to the large crowd that will be there tomorrow. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years of speeches in school and presentations in class or at work.
1. Drafts are drafts for a reason.
It is highly unlikely for you to write one version and call it a day. Start early and prep. Give it a break and then look at it again. You may find that there are things that you don’t like and start scratching out. You may want to re-order certain things.
2. Think about how to convey your message.
What kind of speech are you giving? How much time do you have? Who is your audience? Humour is good, but how much? These are all things you need to consider when drafting your speech. The way you speak and your body language also says a lot. Fidgeting TELLS people you’re nervous. Speaking firmly comes with practice (See point #3). You don’t want to sound monotone either as you give the speech. We can go to Siri for that. Think about how you would talk to a friend normally. If you were just casually speaking to them, how would the same blurb come out? Use that emotion!
A lot of people get nervous when giving speeches or presentations. It’s normal. Practice gets you more comfortable in your own skin. Don’t practice in bed. Practice standing up. Practice not staring at your speech. Practice your timing. Nervous speeches can speed up pretty easily. Keep yourself paced and practicing helps you remember that.
4. Cue cards
Maybe you don’t like cue cards. Use something else. I’ve seen people give speeches like they’re reading off the printed copy of the speech. There is no raising of the eyes to look at the audience. There is no connection. If you’ve done #2, you can probably remember the gist of what you want to say in your speech. Make notes or write down the key points on a cue card or something smaller that will help you trigger your next topic or section of the speech.
5. No pressure
In my case, I’m giving a speech at a wedding. I’ve come to the realization that many people are no longer paying attention to you by this time. They’re conversing with their table or they’re trying to hear you but there is so much going on in the hall that they may not be able to. Speak firm and clear. Don’t rush it. If the large group is making you nervous, remember that the important people who you want to give the speech to are really the people at the head table (i.e. the bride and groom). They’re the ones who matter in this speech so focus on them. Take the pressure off yourself by trying to focus on everyone else in the room.
Here’s to hoping that tomorrow’s speech won’t have me all tripped up!