Speech Tips


Don’t be scared, just be prepared. That’s the simple answer to all those worries you may have about giving a speech.

  1. Accept the invitation. If someone has sent you a written invitation to speak they deserve the courtesy of a written reply. That is, of course, unless they have asked you to telephone them. In a family situation you may, of course, simply prefer to discuss it with other members of the clan.
  2. Check the date. It’s no good preparing a wonderful speech if you arrive to give it on the wrong date.
  3. Know your venue. How long does it take to get there? Is it easy to get parking’ Have you an umbrella in case it rains as you run from the car to the hall during a thunderstorm?
  4. Synchronise watches. Know exactly when you are expected to speak and for how long. Arrange this beforehand with the M.C. or perhaps the best man at a wedding.
  5. Case the joint. Will you be speaking on a stage or from the top table? Do you approach from the floor or from the wings of the stage? Is the light shining in your eyes as you try to read?
  6. Sample the sound. Check that the microphones work. Check too if there will be any sound with which to contend such as waiters serving or a tap dancing class in the next room.
  7. Dress for the occasion. Clothes should be neat and not fussy. A feather boa waving in the breeze would distract your audience from your subject matter. Jangling earrings are definitely not a good idea.
  8. Animal vegetable or mineral’ Is your speech for a social occasion, a business conference or a church gathering? Whatever the occasion make sure your speech is relevant to that particular gathering and that particular audience
  9. Give honour where honour is due. You may be an authority on alternative medicine but at a wedding or a birthday party your subject should be the people concerned and why that day is important to them.
  10. Make your speech unique. If you are one of a group of speakers try to find out what he others will be saying and what angle they are taking on the subject. Any good speaker will agree with you that it is much more entertaining if speakers differ, even when speaking on the same topic.


  1. Talk about your feelings and your own experiences. Mention what the people in question have meant in your life. Make your speech human.
  2. Know your audience. If you are speaking about nuclear power to scientists your speech should obviously be technical. If you are speaking to a school group it would need to be easier to understand and relevant to the age of the children in question.
  3. Mention love. If yours is a family occasion speak about love and why it matters. Most of us take family love for granted so a reminder is a happy thing to add to a speech.
  4. Add a human touch. A story or incident always adds to a speech no matter how serious the subject. So if you are speaking against abortion talk about the physically handicapped person you know who has just written a best seller or started an organization to help the third world.
  5. Know your limitations. If you don’t know a sonnet from a stanza don’t talk to the local literary group about poetry. Wow them with a talk about your favourite thriller instead.
  6. Start well. Your beginning should be different if you want to catch your audience. So ask a question, tell a story or use a relevant quotation to attract their attention.
  7. Relate to your audience. If they are gardeners tell them about the weeds that flourish in your garden while the grass you want just won’t grow. They’ll empathise with you.
  8. Do your research. If you are giving statistics make sure that they are correct and up to date. Make sure too that you use the correct titles for any honoured guests. If you aren’t sure, admit to being human and fallible because somebody else is sure to know it all.
  9. Add a topical touch. If you are talking about travel mention the new highway that has just been opened in your area and say what a difference it makes.
  10. Broaden your speech. If you are asked to speak about sales mention a play about a salesman or someone who won an award for selling something different. Show you have done your research.
  11. Give examples. An example is a word picture and of course speaks better than a thousand other words.
  12. Be appreciative. Find room in your speech to thank those who have asked you to speak or those who have made you welcome at the function.
  13. Be gracious. If your speech is a social one some nice comments about the hosts, the venue or the guests will be very acceptable.
  14. Keep it short. Don’t bore your audience by going on and on. They should be sorry you’ve finished, not relieved.
  15. Be careful about jokes. Kindly humour adds to a speech but remember that being a comedian is not the same as being a public speaker.
  16. Be convincing. You cannot have strong feelings on every subject but you can speak sincerely and from a given angle on any subject. So if you hate fox hunting and find you have to speak about it sympathetically talk about the people who will be out of work because hunting jackets will no longer be worn.
  17. Remember the importance of age. There’s no point in talking about a well- known war song if everyone in the audience is too young to remember the war.
  18. Disagree politely. You may disagree with other speakers or even your audience but be persuasive rather than aggressive. Say that you appreciate their feelings but that you feel differently and explain why.
  19. End on a positive note. Your speech should end on an uplifting or challenging note. So try to involve your audience by saying something like ‘Tonight then I ask you to remember that you too can make a difference. The question you must ask yourself is ‘How?
  20. Give a suitable toast. If your speech has to end with a toast try to make is especially relevant to the people or person concerned. So if a teacher is retiring your toast might just be something about ‘passing the retirement test’.


  1. Discuss your speech with others. You’ll find they’ll have different ideas that might add substantially to your content. If you are talking about football to the woman beside you on the train she may, for instance, have washed the jersey after Pele’s very first match
  2. Get it written. You can’t relax if you don’t know what you are going to say.
  3. Do your homework. Know exactly why, where and how you are going to deliver that speech.
  4. Choose an appropriate outfit to wear. If you are uneasy about what you are going to wear it will affect your confidence. Always check with your hosts because if it’s a black tie event and you are wearing a lounge suit you will feel foolish.
  5. Practise makes perfect. Practise giving your speech on a tape so that you can hear just where you should be pausing or speaking faster.
  6. Use cue cards. Your speech should be on cards to enable you to move quickly from one paragraph to another. A long piece of paper is off-putting to an audience.
  7. Do a trail run. Ask some family members or friends to listen to what you have to say. Ask them to be honest in their appraisal and be open and listen to what they say.
  8. Practise breathing exercises. Bend over and let your hands hand down to relax your whole body. Take deep breaths before you actually speak.
  9. Try to know your speech off by heart. In that way you barely need to glance at your cue cards and so can look out and communicate with your audience.
  10. Practise with the microphone first so that you know you can be heard at the corners of the hall.
  11. Find a friendly face. Find or plant someone in the audience who will support you through your ordeal. When someone is smiling encouragingly at you it all seems much easier.


  1. Be sure you are tidy. If your shirt tail is hanging down your audience may be looking and laughing at that rather than listening to your words of wisdom.
  2. Don’t arrive flat on your face. Remember that sometimes the steps to a stage are slippery. If your heels are high, your shoes leather or your skirt is too tight you might make a less than graceful entry.
  3. Know your topic. You’ll sound foolish if you haven’t got the facts and figures right.
  4. Don’t fiddle. Your audience will sense your discomfort if you drum your fingers on the rostrum, tap your feet on the ground or fiddle with your coat buttons.
  5. Don’t drink. Never ever drink alcohol before you give a speech. You may think it will relax you but your audience doesn’t want to hear a slurred speech.
  6. Respect your audience. Never be offensive in any way. Some of your audience may laugh at a blue joke. Your boss or your mother-in-law may not be amused.
  7. Never ever end by saying thank you. The ending of your speech should be so riveting that your audience is absolutely enthralled and they should be left wanting to discuss what you have said. Only amateurs end by saying thank you
  8. Bring your spectacles. Bring a spare pair too just in case of accidents. It would be too bad if somebody else had to read your speech because you couldn’t see it yourself!
  9. Watch your diet. Don’t eat anything beforehand that disagrees with you or that will give you wind. Having the hiccups during a speech will be embarrassing both for you and for your audience.
  10. Make sure you get the titles right. An army colonel will not be amused if you call him sergeant.

So if you want to give a speech that will be remembered just think of the three R’s Reconnoitre, Research and then you can really Relax


  1. Remember you’re not alone. Most people are shy and public speaking ranks with divorce and death as their worst fear.
  2. Start small. Don’t start your public speaking career by addressing the members of International monetary fund. Talk to a few neighbours about local vandalism instead.
  3. Be passionate. It’s easier to speak in public if you feel strongly about something. So if your under-ten football team needs a playing field go pitch for it.
  4. Nobody cares. Shy people often think that others are looking down on them or being critical of them. The truth is most people are far too concerned about their own affairs to bother about others. As a public speaker you have to make them care.
  5. Join a public speaking class or a group such as Toastmasters. There you will get professional help and lots of encouragement to help you speak. You may still be shy but your audience will never guess.