despairNot 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:

The first thing you need to do is write your speech. In most cases, the content of your speech is more critical than your delivery as people will often forgive you for not using a lot of vocal variety, but they won’t forgive you if leave out a critical piece of information. So start with an outline that lists out three to five main points and then fill in the details. I recommend writing out the entire speech if you’re new to public speaking, this will give you an extra bit of confidence and help you remember your speech better.

Should you use PowerPoint?

I only use PowerPoint when I have a lot of visual imagery in my talk. Others prefer to use it all the time because it helps you stay on topic and makes it easier for you to remember the important parts of your speech. If you’re nervous about speaking, then PowerPoint is a great option for these exact reasons, but make sure that room you’ll be speaking in is set up for giving PowerPoint presentations. And also make sure that you practice your presentation on the same equipment you’ll be using for your actual speech.


The most important thing you must do before a speech is to practice it. It’s best to practice it in front of a live audience so you can get feedback and practice eye contact. But if you don’t have an audience of friends, family members and/or coworkers to give yourself a test run, then seek out a video camera. When all else fails, set up stuffed animals or pictures and use them for your audience – you can practice your eye contact.


Public speaking doesn’t have to be scary. Remember that it’s an honor to get up there and speak to a group so don’t look at it as a chore. Think “I get to do this speech” as opposed to “I have to do this speech.” There are a number of techniques you can use to relax such as listen to music, visualize your success or focusing on the benefits.

So when you’re asked to give a speech, don’t panic. Just take the time to practice and put the effort into making sure your speech is well crafted. There are a number of free articles here on this site to help ensure your next speech is a success. Good luck.

If you need help preparing for a speech I offer both in-person and phone coaching.

What to Do When You’re Asked to Give a Speech
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