How to Deliver a Speech with Power: 10 Tips

Christopher Witt —  September 11, 2012

Promote Your Business by SpeakingHow you deliver a speech — how you use your voice, gestures, and entire body — can add power to what you say. Or it can weaken your message and its impact.

10 Tips: How to Deliver a Speech with Power

  1. Prepare a Powerful Speech
    Delivery only gets you so far. What matters most is your content: the idea you’re advocating, its clarity, its supporting evidence and reasoning, its emotional appeal, its stories and images. So do your up-front work. Write out or, at the very least, prepare a detailed outline of what you want to say.
  2. Rehearse
    Never get up in front of an audience without having practiced what you want to say and how you want to say it. Stand up while you’re practicing and, if possible, walk around. Speak it out loud. The more often you rehearse it, the better. Give it at least three tries.
  3. Breathe
    Taking slow, deep breaths immediately before you stand to speak is the best way to calm your jitters at the time most people get most nervous. And take more slow, deep breaths at key points during your speech. Being conscious of your breathing is a great way to keep you grounded in the present moment.
  4. Move with Purpose
    You don’t have to stand firmly rooted in one place. It’s perfectly fine to move about as you deliver a speech . In fact, it’s a good thing. Just be sure that you move with a purpose. Don’t pace around, as if you’re nervous, or walk from one side of the state to the other and back again as if you don’t have anything better to do. Don’t move mid-sentence. Change direction when you change directions in your speech.
  5. Stand Still
    Standing still, with your sides at your hand, is your “default position” while giving a speech.┬áIt’s the physical equivalent of pausing while you’re speaking. Standing still — and being confident in your standing — conveys a great deal of power.
  6. Hold Your Eye Contact
    Don’t let your eyes roam aimlessly over your audience. Don’t try to look at everyone at the same time in some generalized gaze. (It can’t be done.) Instead, look at one person at a time. Establish eye contact with that one person and hold it for five to eight seconds while you complete a sentence. Then look at someone else, preferably someone in another part of the room.
  7. Use Bigger Gestures
    Generally speaking, it’s best not to┬árehearse the gestures you want to use while you deliver a speech. You’ll come off looking staged or stilted. Use the gestures you naturally use in conversation, only make them larger, more expansive, when you’re speaking in front of a large audience.
  8. Speak Louder
    Even if you’re using a mic, raise your volume. It will add energy and vitality to your voice. (You cannot shout in a monotone.)
  9. Pause
    Unleashing a steady flow of words doesn’t make you sound like a smooth and polished speaker. It makes you sound rushed and nervous. So pause every so often. Pause right before making a bold assertion. And pause again after you’ve made it. Look someone in the eye while you’re pausing.
  10. Smile
    When you smile, you make people feel more at ease. They sense that you like them. (You do, don’t you?) It also sets you at ease.

Do you have any tips to add to my list? What do you do to deliver a speech with more power?

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Christopher Witt

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Chris Witt was born in Los Angeles, California. He currently lives in San Diego. He works as a speech and presentations consultant, an executive speech coach, and an orals coach.

4 responses to How to Deliver a Speech with Power: 10 Tips

  1. Dana Bristol-Smith September 11, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    Hey Chris, that’s a great list!

    I realize that you are focusing on the physical behaviors to deliver a successful speech. What I’d like to add to your list is to Speak with Purpose. What I’m suggesting is that the speaker keep in mind why they are speaking. Is to it persuade, inform, ask for something specific? By keeping purpose in mind, words flow smoother, it’s easier to stay on track, and then do all of the things that you are suggesting.

    I love that you list both Pause and Breathe as separate items though they can certainly be done at the same time :-).

    Thanks for sharing your expertise!

  2. Dana,

    Thanks for your comments and your insight. You made me think of doing another post on this same topic, but focusing on the non-physical aspects of delivering a speech. Like your attitude and intention.

    Not only can you pause and breathe at the same time, but you can also talk and breathe at the same time. Amazing, isn’t it?

    Thanks again for your comments.

  3. these and perfect instructions

  4. these are perfect instructions