Best Way to Give a Great Speech

Lots of reports say that the number one fear people have is this: giving a speech!

  •           Standing up in front of all those people.
  •           Everyone looking at you.
  •           Waiting for you to make a fool of yourself.
  •           Just waiting to laugh at you.

It is really hard to stand up in front of bunch of people and talk. What if you bore them to death? What if they laugh at you? What if you make a total and complete idiot of yourself?

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You won’t if you take the following ad­vice. (I promise!)

Merrie Spaeth knows speeches: She’s written them, even worked at the White House helping former President Reagan with them. (And he was way well-known for his speeches.) Now she owns a business teaching people how to give speeches. If she can help the president, she can help you. Here’s Merrie’s advice for your big moment:

What an honor! You’ve been selected to make a speech for Presidents’ Day (or whatever) in front of your school. But, if this is such a privilege, how come you feel the flu coming on?

Run to the bathroom. Look in the mirror, and say, “I can do this.” Now say it again—louder (might as well start learn­ing to project)—”I can do this!” Good. Because you can.

Think three—three elements of planning a successful speech:

Know what you are going to say

Let’s start with what you’re going to say. Imagine that you see your best bud Kate after your speech at assembly. You can’t believe it, she missed your speech? Kate claims she’s devastated and is dying to know what you said in the one minute before the bell rings to get to your next class. What would you tell Kate you said?

You need three or four headlines. What are the three or four top messages you want people to remember?

These are your beginning and your end points. Then, you bring up each one as you speak and go into it in more detail.

Practice how you’re going to-say it.

Once you’ve gotten your speech down in written form, you can type it up in big letters (24-point bolded type) and use it as a script to glance down at. Don’t split paragraphs between pages, and don’t staple the pages.

Or, you can reduce the speech to an outline or key words. Do what makes you comfortable (except ask someone else to give your speech!). And don’t feel you have to memorize it.

Put a reminder to smile—Happy Face!—on each page. Each tim you see it, your face will lighten up. It’s like having your own per­sonal coach.


Now, here’s how to guarantee success. Stand up and practice. Bribe your friends with munchies and invite them over to listen. Then do The Speech in front of a few people you don’t know. (Think you’ll die of embarrassment? You won’t. But you will “die” on the stage you get up there and haven’t rehearsed.)

Here are some more tips from Merrie for giving your speech:

  •  Look at the audience (not your notes).
  •  Project your voice so you can be heard.
  •  Look as if you’re enjoying yourself. Relax! This is a learned art. You can be knotted inside, but keep smiling and only you will know.
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If you find your hands take on a life of their own and gravitate to the podium, step back. (This is why you have to be able to see what you’ve written from farther away.)

When you do look out, don’t scan the audience. This only makes them wonder what you’ve spotted. Talk to one person at a time, and really pour your heart out to them. Every time you look up or down, pick another person. (Obviously, pick people all over the auditorium, not just your pals in the small group halfway back on the left side.)

Does this ever get easy? After a while, it may. But you learn to make it look easy.

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