Better Speeches: 5 Ways to Wow Your Audience
January 15, 2016
By Garrett Brown, IT Manager
Hi all! It’s Garrett, your friendly IT geek checking in. A while ago I gave a presentation on public speaking for the Sachs staff.
I know what you’re thinking… Why is the IT dude giving lessons on public speaking? And I don’t blame you for asking that question, or for being slightly confused.
Welp, believe it or not I have a degree in this noble craft and roughly 6 years of experience in competitive and academic public speaking. That means “I dun learnt to speak and rite gud.”
In this presentation I covered a brief history of public speech, best practices for speech preparation and delivery, as well as Monroe’s motivated sequence. Afterwards I forced everyone to get up embarrass themselves by giving short impromptu speeches. They were all awesome by the way.
Now that all of the fun is over I figured I would gift the great unwashed masses of the internet with my top five pearls of elocutionary wisdom.
1. Ditch the script (use note cards, never printed paper)
Freeing yourself from a script can be a liberating experience. You are much more free to engage with your audience or modify your message. You can even make changes if you feel that you are losing them or they are reacting strongly to a specific point that you are making.
2. Practice (go over that speech until you want to ram your head into a wall)
Seriously, practice makes as close to perfect as Plato will allow. The more comfortable that you are with your speech, the better you will be at conveying your message and meaning. Rehearsal will also help you avoid awkward phrasing if everything is said aloud.
3. Make sure it flows (Vary your phrasing, tone, and cadence.)
Speaking in a flat monotone is boring. Boring speakers lose audiences. Don’t be a boring speaker. In your rehearsal process you should be changing how you pause, inflect, and pace your speech.
4. Use humor correctly (seriously, two rules, don’t say anything that will get you sent to HR and don’t tell dad jokes)
Simple rules here. Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t say to your grandmother. If you have to stop and consider if the content is inappropriate, it probably is. Finally, don’t tell corny jokes. If it makes you want to groan, then it probably isn’t a good choice.
5. Enjoy yourself (If you are feeling nervous your audience can tell)
To relax myself before speaking in front of people I like doing “fire breaths” which are a special type of cleansing breath used in yoga. You can also eat a banana which contains natural beta blockers. Rehearsal and proper preparation will also negate nervousness.
Ok Folks, you are now certified experts in rhetoric, oratory, and declamation. I encourage you all to go forth and exercise your newfound skills on unsuspecting crowds, trapped family members, and friends that are too polite to say “no.”