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Please STOP Memorizing Your Speeches!

by Thor Uram

The best speeches are NOT memorized, they are familiarized.

Without a doubt, you should know very close to as much as there is to know on any given subject in your sphere of influence. You won’t be able to include everything in your speech. Stick to the high points, which become your “mini topics”, which I simply call minis. You’ll be using these to organize your entire speech.

Writing Your Speech

Who is the audience for this speech?

What is the topic?

Time length will tell you how many “mini topics” you should plan on using. Factor in at least 5 minutes for every mini you plan on presenting. (You won’t be able to use ALL the info you have.)

Write a BLANK speech you can pretty much give anywhere. Include:
1 intro paragraph
1 mini for every 5 minutes of speech
1 summary of the talk

Customize a separate version of this speech and save a new file using the client’s name, such as:
“Stand Up to Bullies”
“Stand Up To Bullies ABC Company”

Create simple slides that contain all the bullet points you’ll be covering in each one of your minis. Use simple colors and legible fonts. Add in some good photos and charts to illustrate your point.

Make a list on your phone that shows all your minis. This will be your cue card. You’ll be using this to track your progress as you give the actual speech. Your cue card might look something like this:
Mini 1: xxxx
Mini 2: xxxx
Mini 3: xxxx
Mini 4: xxxx
Mini 5: xxxx

Tips for Public Speaking Newbs

Here are some speaking tips for newbs. You’re going to be just fine. The more natural it feels, the better. Have fun with it. Using these tips will help.

Tip 1: If you’re in front of a camera, make sure your face is positioned about ⅔ up from the bottom of the screen.

Tip 2: Use a lav. This is the best way to capture good quality sound without sounding like you’re yelling.

Tip 3: Practice speaking about 20% louder than you normally would, and about 10% faster. Use good diction. Remember to blink and smile.

Tip 4: I recommend practicing your entire speech at least 10 times. This will engrain things in your memory and build confidence to speak more freely without fear of going off topic or forgetting something important.

Tip 5: Place a red dot somewhere near where your camera lens is placed. Some people even use little stuffed animals or the cutout of a face placed near the lens. This will ensure your face is centered and your eyes are actually looking into the camera. You can break contact, but this will be the general spot where you should be looking.

If you’re giving a speech to a big room, add in a little side-to-side movement but don’t stray too far from center stage. In your field of vision, break the room into 3 sections (left, middle, right). Don’t focus on any particular section, but DO give them a little love (look at them individually and smile, nod, point, clap, etc.)

Tip 6: Smile. Keep your head still with good eye contact. Start your speech.

Tip 7: Use your cue card. If you get lost, just glance at it. No one cares if you’re using a cue card or not. Most will actually be impressed you were smart enough to take measures to not lose your place!

Tip 8: Stay on topic.Drifting thoughts ARE NOT a part of a good speech and you risk confusing people. It’s easy to get drawn into tangential thoughts that will destroy your timing, or cause you to forget something important. At best, you will look like you didn’t do a good enough job of including everything that needed to be in the speech. At worst, you will appear thoughtless and disorganized.

Tip 9: Everyone is rooting for you! Your audience is here because they are very interested in what you have to say. Sometimes, their faces will look blank. That’s okay. As long as they are still looking at you they are interested. They want you to succeed!

Tip 10: Seriously, have fun!