Who hasn’t dreamed of delivering a speech that would make the audience rise, shout your name and applaud furiously? Though we cannot guarantee that your speech will have such an effect at first, these simple steps will definitely help you to make it better:
1. Be daring, be brief. When Lincoln was giving his State of the Union Address, he did two very important things that made his speech iconic: he was bold and brief. Unlike his counterparts, he delivered a very short speech, which lasted only two minutes and consisted of 272 words. The Congress was cheering him like crazy, since the audience was prepared to listen a long and boring text, but instead they got two minutes of pure motivation. If you are writing a speech for the first time, use this simple trick to make it great: cut every word that isn’t essential for the text.
2. Use rhetorical devices. Though such things as rhetorical questions and comparisons were discovered a long time ago, they are still pretty effective (humankind hasn’t change a lot, right?). Take advantage of this and make those meticulous tricks serve you. Just remember not to overload your speech with these decorations, or you will make it difficult to perceive. To get a better understanding whether your speech goes smoothly or not, read it to someone or just record yourself and listen afterward.
3. Tell a story. Scientists say that people like listening to personal stories more than anything else (that’s why we are so keen on gossiping), and you can make an advantage from it while delivering your speech. You don’t need to be too revealing if you feel uncomfortable telling your entire life before a hall full of complete strangers. Find a funny episode to illustrate the topic of your speech, and this will help to connect with your audience on an emotional level.
4. Have great examples to look at. Watch your favorite TED speeches again and try to figure out what makes them so special. What makes TED so special is that people delivering their speeches there are not professional actors or rhetoricians; however, they manage to tell about their experience in such a way that it makes everyone cry, or laugh, but most of all—shiver with excitement and inspiration.
5. Practice. Yes, you will be nervous, badly nervous, especially if this is your first public speech. This is unavoidable, unless you drink too much or take sedatives, which eventually will make you weird looking and plain. It’s better to try to tame your nerves naturally and make them serve you. Rehearse your speech in front of a mirror, then in front of your friend, and then—a group of friends.