There’s an interesting scene in “A Very Brady Christmas” where Mike Brady, the patriarch or the infamous Brady Bunch, is giving a speech before Christmas dinner. Mike’s speech is about the importance of family and traditional values such as honesty. What’s funny is that while Mike’s speech isn’t about anyone in the family in particular, members of his family think that he is talking about them and therefore interrupt him to confess about not being honest with the family.
There are endless tips out there to help you give a successful speech so I thought I’d take a different approach with this article. Instead of giving you tips that may or may not help you give a great speech, I figured I’d point out ten things to avoid – each of which would almost guarantee that your speech is failure.
1: Don’t practice:
Not everyone has the luxury of time when they’re asked to give a speech. Perhaps they’re working on an important project at work and then asked to make a presentation to “sell” it to other parts of the company. Or maybe they are a business owner and get to spotlight something exciting about their business to the local community. Whatever the case, we often lack the time for taking a class, joining Toastmasters or finding a speaking coach. So what can you do?
Write it out:
So you’ve got a speech that was a bit hit at your Toastmasters meeting and you feel it’s ready for prime time. So what’s the next step along the path to becoming a professional speaker? I recommend taking your show on the road and speaking to local service clubs.
Service clubs are a great way to test the waters for your presentation. They offer you a real audience that will give you real feedback. While Toastmasters clubs are a great venue for learning how to speak, the audiences at these meetings are quite forgiving.
So you’re about to take the stage to give a speech and you start feeling a little strange. Your stomach feels like it’s tied up in knots, your heart is racing and you have a warm and tightening feeling in your upper body. This is a normal feeling that even experienced speakers feel from time to time. So how do you deal with it? How about imagining your audience in their underwear?
Throughout the last six years, I’ve heard at least a dozen folks who are good speakers tell other people that they should never open their speech with “Thanks, it’s nice to be here” or some other cordial greeting. I’ve asked many of these folks why they feel so strongly about it and have yet to receive what I consider a satisfactory answer – a giveaway that I might have a myth on my hands.
Here are some of the answers I’ve received when asking why this is so bad:
- It weakens your speech.
- It bores the audience.
Whenever I use the term “Pregnant Pause” among people who don’t speak for a living, it always raises eyebrows. It’s an odd term, but it essentially means an elongated pause (usually ten seconds or longer) used during a speech. Pregnant pauses aren’t always bad either; they can enhance a speech when used correctly. So let’s take a closer look at the pregnant pause.
A replacement for “ums” and “ahs”: