Sometimes it is useful to discuss your ideas with a friend or family member. Don’t be upset if they have any negative feedback – critical feedback at this point can help you organise your ideas and improve your speech to be the best possible!
Find out what their understanding and beliefs of the problem might currently be and shape your speech to suit it. For example, it is no good using very tricky words and technical descriptions if your audience is very young.
Speeches come in all different forms and you should choose a style that suits you the best. For example, some people are very good at telling an emotional story while someone else might be great at explaining a complicated subject in an easy way to understand. Have a think about what style of speech will suit you the best.
When planning your speech be clear on how long you will spend on each section. For example, your introduction and conclusion should be about 10% eachWork out 10% by dividing the total amount of time that you speak by 10 or by multiplying the total time by 0.10.. As you go through your speech, keep an eye on the clock and try to finish each section when you have reached your planned amount of time.
Practice your speech as much as you can. This could be in front of the mirror, to your family members, for your pets or to anyone else who will listen! If you can, practice in the same location where you will give your speech or picture the location in your mind as you practice. Ask your audience to whisper over your voice, stand far away and ask questions – if you can handle this, you will be ready for anything on speech day!
Some people like to memorise their whole speech. Others like to have a few notes to read, while some people want to make up their speech as they talk. If you prefer to have a few notes to jolt your memory, you can avoid reading the whole speech. Flash cards with key words can be very useful tools. Remember to number your cards in case you drop them during the speech!
People like to see the personality behind the speech, so making eye contact is important to keep your audience paying attention and avoid sounding like a robot! If you are using flash cards, you could practice the speech whilst balancing a book on your head so you don’t fall into the trap of looking down at your notes!
When you speak, you don’t just speak with your words, you speak with your whole body. Keep a good posture, with your feet shoulder-width apart and make sure your chest is facing the audience. If the audience is in a circle in front of you, you can walk around as you speak to address them all.
Take your time to speak clearly and boldly. The best public speakers take a few seconds to pause every few sentences. This gives them and their audiences time to think.
No one likes a dry mouth whilst talking!
Think of questions that might come up and prepare what you could answer. When you practice, ask your practice audience to come up with questions. A lot of people fear question time, but this could be a fun time to show off everything you know about the topic!
Don’t be afraid to say if you don’t know the answer to a question because nobody knows the answer to everything! It is perfectly ok to say, ‘That is such a great question, I don’t actually know the answer. My guess would be XX because of XX, but I’ll find out the answer and get back to you!’
The introduction is the hardest part of a speech to write. Many people suggest that you write the introduction last. You could watch some other speeches online and note down what you like about their introductions. If you need help getting started, there are three speeches below that all choose a unique and good way to start.
Speeches have been used throughout history to create big changes. For example, speeches could change people’s opinions on climate change or racism.
One famous speech addressing racism is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, delivered on the 28th August 1963. The speech was delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters. It called for equality and freedom.
Famous lines from the speech include:
‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today…I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists…little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.’
The speech has been recognised as one of the defining moments of the civil rights movement and one of the most iconic speeches in American history. Dr. King’s leadership and hard work were huge contributors to the laws of segregation finally changing, with the world becoming a better, fairer place.
Speeches can be amazingly powerful. Check out some change-makers who have used speeches to make an amazing difference to the world:
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