In this section, we list various tips and guidelines to making public speeches, as well as examples of public speeches.
PREPARING A SPEECH
Preparing for a speech is a must when it comes to effective presentation onstage. Try these tips to help you properly prepare:
Organize your speech in a logical sequence: opening, main points, summary.
Practice and rehearse a speech frequently prior to delivering it. Ask friends to be your audience or practice in front of a mirror. Be sure to use a timer to help you pace your speech.
Choose comfortable clothing, but always maintain a professional appearance.
Visual aids should match the style of your speech, whether they are funny, serious, or technical. The main goal of visual aids is to help the audience understand what is being said, and reinforce the points of a speech in unique and interesting ways.
VISUAL AIDS AND PROPS
Visual aids and props are an effective way of supporting any speech or presentation. Visual aids and props should be colorful and unique, but not so dazzling that they detract from the speaker's presence. Never use visual aids and props as a way of avoiding eye contact or interaction with an audience. A bad example would be reading directly from slides.
Here is a list of common visual aids and props, and quick tips for using them effectively:
Diagrams, graphs and charts should always relate to what is being said in the speech. Always stand to the side of a diagram, graph or chart while facing the audience.
Maps should be simple and easy to understand, with key places or points clearly plotted or marked.
PowerPoint slides should present main points as short sentences and bullet points, and should never be read verbatim by the speaker or presenter.
Lists should be kept to a minimum. Five or six listed items are usually enough.
Handouts should be passed out to an audience before or after a presentation to avoid wasting time and causing distraction.
Photographs or sketches can be powerful visual aids as long as a speaker maintains consistency between what is being said and what is being shown.
Physical objects and props should not be too large or too small, nor too few or too many. They should always be relevant to the presentation or speech and should always be checked prior to taking the stage to make sure they are working properly.
GESTURES AND BODY LANGUAGE
Speakers generate a great amount of emotion and interest through the use of non-verbal communication, often called gestures or body language. A speaker's body can be an effective tool for emphasizing and clarifying the words they use, while reinforcing their sincerity and enthusiasm.
Here are a few tips on how to use gestures effectively:
Eye contact establishes an immediate bond with an audience, especially when a speaker focuses in on individual listeners rather than just gazing over the audience as a whole.
Control mannerisms. Mannerisms are nervous expressions a speaker might not be aware of, such as putting their hands in their pockets, nodding their head excessively, or using filler words like um and ah too often.
Put verbs into action when speaking to an audience by physically acting them out with your hands, face, or entire body.
Avoid insincere gestures by involving the entire body as much as possible and matching facial expressions to your movement.
Move around the stage as topics change and move toward the audience when asking questions, making critical connections, or offering a revelation.
EXAMPLES OF EXCELLENT SPEECHES
There are 168 hours in each week. How do we find time for what matters most? Time management expert Laura Vanderkam studies how busy people spend their lives, and she's discovered that many of us drastically overestimate our commitments each week, while underestimating the time we have to ourselves. She offers a few practical strategies to help find more time for what matters to us, so we can "build the lives we want in the time we've got."
The hard choices — what we most fear doing, asking, saying — are very often exactly what we need to do. How can we overcome self-paralysis and take action? Tim Ferriss encourages us to fully envision and write down our fears in detail, in a simple but powerful exercise he calls "fear-setting." Learn more about how this practice can help you thrive in high-stress environments and separate what you can control from what you cannot.
Would you choose to build a house on top of an unfinished foundation? Of course not. Why, then, do we rush students through education when they haven't always grasped the basics? Yes, it's complicated, but educator Sal Khan shares his plan to turn struggling students into scholars by helping them master concepts at their own pace.
Scott Dinsmore quit a job that made him miserable, and spent the next four years wondering how to find work that was joyful and meaningful. He shares what he learned in this deceptively simple talk about finding out what matters to you — and then getting started doing it.