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Find out as much as you can about your audience before you prepare your
Focus on what your audience wants and needs to hear -- not what you
want to tell them.
As you prepare, give yourself an opportunity to think creatively about
your topic by tapping into creative times ... walking the dog, taking
a shower, other non-stressful times. When you get a new idea, jot it
down and put it in a folder for later use.
As you prepare, be very conscious of the length of time you are expected
to speak .
Develop an overall theme for the presentation, and make sure you keep
to that theme throughout the speech.
Don't overload a short speech -- make just a few points, and make them
Use conversational language. Remember the spoken word is different from
the written word.
Avoid jargon or acronyms. If you must use them, define them clearly.
Get the audience's attention with a strong opening. The more you can
customize your opening for that particular audience, the better.
Mention something unique about your knowledge or approach to the issue
to establish credibility.
Good transitions between points keep your audience focused on your theme.
Use the closing to emphasize key points in a commanding way.
A dramatic quotation from a well-known source can add punch to a speech…
but only if it reinforces the points you want to make.
Humor is also a welcome addition to a speech. Keep a file of stories
or jokes that you like. The essential point is, again, to make sure
that the story or joke clearly relates to your message.
Before you go before any group, PRACTICE. Time yourself to make sure
you will stay within the limits.
Don't read your speech! Practice your presentation until you are so
familiar with it that the words flow comfortably. Don't worry if you
say it slightly differently every time you practice; the important thing
is to get your message across in clear, direct language.
Feel free to use a few notecards. Write down a few key words or phrases
that keep you on track. Don't write out your entire speech unless you
need it for a formal record.
Overhead transparencies or a few simple Power-Point slides are a good
way to emphasize key points or illustrate themes. But don't let the
technology take over!
A few slides can illustrate a point, but use them sparingly because
they require lowered lights (that reduce attention).
Make sure the information on each transparency or slide is limited,
and is easily read in the back of the room.
As you give your speech, make eye contact with audience members as much
as possible. Speak to each person "individually."
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