By Ruoro Kairu
Have you ever been called upon to speak on behalf of your company, department or even family? How did you react? Did you brace the new opportunity or did your clench your sweaty palms and hope the earth would swallow you whole?
There isn’t much you can do to prepare for an impromptu speech-other than being always prepared. There are, however, times you’re given ample time to prepare for a speech. How then do you rightly prepare and give an effective speech?
As Kenyans, we are used to preparing at the last minute. When you ask most people why they did not prepare, some of the common answers include;
“I did not have the time…”
“I couldn’t figure out where to start…
“I’m still trying to narrow down on my topic…”
“I did not want to over-prepare…”
The last one is a common one with many people you’ll ask.
Here’s some truth for you, if you make a speech with little to no preparation, it’s going to add to your stress levels. This will lead to a nervous presentation, which will be evident to your audience as well.
Here are a few tips to help you rightly prepare for a presentation.
1. Start, now!
I have had instances where I stalled working on a presentation until the last minute. In many of these instances, I was waiting for some creative lightning to strike –it did not.
There’s never a perfect time to start working on your speech, you might as well start now. Whatever excuse is keeping you from working on your speech now, toss it aside and get started!
2. Focus on your strongest points
Now, you’ve already started on your presentation. You have outlined what you’re presentation will entail and how long it’ll be.
What you need to do now is decide what the main purpose of your presentation is. Then, pick a few (3-5) points that will help highlight the theme of your presentation. If you focus on a few strong points, the message will have a stronger emotional appeal as opposed to focusing on everything in your speech.
3. Have a strong opening and closing
The beginning of your presentation is where you capture your audience. If you start poorly, you’ll have given the audience leeway to wander off.
If you capture their attention, on the other hand, you’ll have invited them to listen and share in your ideas and presentation.
The same goes for the ending after you’ve made your presentation, go over the main points again. The attention span of your audience is most captive towards the beginning and end of your speech, so take advantage of this.
4. Have relatable stories
Above statistics and data, an audience wants to relate with you –and stories can help you do that. Share some memorable stories that the audience can relate with. This will also help them draw nearer to the purpose of your message.
If your audience feels they cannot relate with your stories, they are likely going to wander off.
5. Rehearse out loud
Some people will rehearse in their heads and try to figure it out from there, others will wait till the presentation and try to customize the message to fit the crowd.
Proper preparation cannot be overemphasized. But don’t just go over the presentation in your mind, take the time and actually go over the presentation out loud.
When you hear your presentation out loud, you’ll be able to pick out areas that could use an improvement and those you should remain as are.
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When all’s said and done, the only way to get better at presentations is by preparation. Once you have prepared for a while, you’ll be ready for even the most impromptu of presentations.
To gain more insight on how to prepare for a speech, and general public speaking, join our Speaking With Confidence class. For bookings and inquiries, reach us at 0722 735 216 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.