Doing the correct preparation can mean the difference between delivering a powerful speech and delivering a lacklustre speech that doesn’t make an impact. Preparing correctly for your speeches and presentations is a very important skill and it’s a very important part of public speaking.
So how can we most effectively prepare for our public speeches? Today I’ve got six steps to follow to help you better prepare.
Step#1: Select your topic AND core message
Step number one is to select your topic but to also select your core message.
Almost every guidebook for speech writing will say to choose your topic. It’s an obvious starting place. But a lot of people miss out the fact that you need to also select the core message that you want to get across.
I could have a topic like global warming. From this I could have a core message about the need to:
- invest in clean energy
- reduce our emissions
- plant more trees.
The same topic can deliver a lot of different core messages.
Getting clear on your core message and exactly what you want to deliver to your audience will help you frame the rest of your preparations.
Step#2: Create a structure
Step number two is to create a structure for your speech.
Speeches are generally nothing without structure. This is the pattern or journey or flow that is inherent in the speech. Your audience will likely find the speech confusing if it does not have structure.
You can see that my structure here is centred on my six steps. But there are many different ways that you can structure your speech or create an outline. I have made two different videos on how to create a speech outline and a speech outline example that you can check out.
We want to have a great body that uses stories and engaging points.
And then we want to finish off with a bang with our conclusion.
That is how most speeches go. But how you go through your speech is really up to you.
Step#3: Write the speech
Step number three is to then write the speech (more on creating a speech outline). Or – if you decide you are prepared enough – you can stop right here and wing it.
I deliver daily videos for Public Speaking Power as well as other websites. I don’t have the time to sit down and write exactly what I want to say during my presentations. So I will create a speech outline and then wing it in front of the camera.
But I would go into more detail if I were giving a more formal presentation or if I were getting paid by someone to speak. I would write out my speech and get used to the flow of my speech and learn it. So writing out your speech can be a very effective way of preparing.
Step#4: Practise with gestures
Step number four is to then practise your speech with gestures.
We don’t just want to add gestures to our speech because gestures will come naturally. I have talked in detail about using gestures.
But we need to practise our speech using gestures in front of a mirror or in front of the video camera. You can plan out gestures if you want but I think this is more likely to confuse you because you’ll be trying to remember so many things.
So practise your speech and make sure that it flows well. Then use and practise your gestures.
Make sure that they seem ordinary and that you’re not doing anything weird or uncomfortable. Your gestures should be natural and not obtrusive.
Step#5: Practise with an audience
Step number five is to practise in front of people and get feedback.
This is most important if you’re giving an important speech or presentation.
Practising by yourself is great but speaking in front of someone will heighten your natural ability to identify anything that feels or sounds silly.
You could do this with a spouse or your children or one of your friends. Simply getting up in front of someone who can give you feedback will allow you to better understand when something is flowing and when it isn’t.
You will also get the added benefit of the feedback that the person provides us.
Step#6: Learn and improve
And step number six is to learn and improve after you deliver your speech.
So don’t deliver your speech and immediately put it out of your mind. You’re likely to have to give multiple public speeches throughout your life. So it’s important to learn from every single experience that you have and to become a better public speaker.
Think about the things that you did well. You could even list them on a piece of paper or in your head.
And then consider what you could improve upon. Don’t question what you did wrong – this will only bring your morale down and lessen your confidence. Instead identify your weaker points and think of ways that you can better yourself next time.
So there you have six steps to help you prepare for a public speech and to help you become a more powerful and effective public speaker.