10 Tips: How to Deliver a Speech with Power
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- Stand Still
Standing still, with your sides at your hand, is your “default position” while giving a speech. It’s the physical equivalent of pausing while you’re speaking. Standing still — and being confident in your standing — conveys a great deal of power.
- 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.
- Use Bigger Gestures
Generally speaking, it’s best not to rehearse 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.
- 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.)
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.
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?