Picture the audience naked. Wait, no- you’re naked? Why is everyone naked? Despite what your fifth grade English teacher may have told you, there doesn’t need to be irrational imagery of nudity when it comes to giving a speech. With the exception, maybe, of the cute newsy-cap guy with the purple cravat that didn’t match (but you didn’t care); the one that arrived late at the church….wait for it…alone. Permission to undress granted.
For the rest of your audience however, here’s the spoiler: The “pretend they’re all naked” counsel is nothing more than an old wives’ tale that needs to be permanently removed from your speech strategy if you’re gunning for a few back pats and high fives, post the podium.
As human beings living this big wonderful life, we’re all pretty aware that there are some outcomes along our way that come with no guarantees: Death, Taxes and now – Speeches. Despite your prep, you just never know how it’s going to go; what the audience will appreciate and what they won’t appreciate; if you’ll stumble on your way up and/or stumble over the word “exquisite” – which took you half an hour to locate and insert specifically from thesaurus.com, to describe the bridesmaids.
So here’s the good news. You’re not alone. The fear of public speaking is real. For everyone. It even has its own diagnosis: glossophobia. It’s a social disorder that more than 73% of the global population suffer. Which means you’ll be thrown a whole bunch of invisible kudos just for showing up at the podium. Respect!
The not so good news, is that every speech needs some kind of preparation in order to end well – and for you to be invited back.
Here’s the F.L.E Billboard Top 5 of fail proof Speech Tips that’ll get you past the slow clap zone and into the wolf whistle arena.
#1 – Know your B.M.E
Even if you’re not a story teller, the only way to nail any kind of speech is to know your B.M.E – Beginning, Middle & End. Three simple parts of your ‘speech’ that are a crucial part of the flow – and also, of keeping your audience from having a snooze fest. Before you write your entire speech, jot down how you want to begin, know how you want to crescendo and know how it must end. Three little bullet points that will help you stay focused, and finish clean. B.O.S.S!
#2 – Write like you Speak
It all starts with the words. Delivering a powerful best man speech or birthday speech or farewell speech begins way way way back, before your call-up applause. When writing your speech, keep it real, keep it simple and keep it ‘you’. Writing like you speak makes for an authentic speech that your audience can relate to. So keep clear of big blow up words that you never use – staying true to your personality is the golden ticket.
# 3 – Don’t Waffle
So the truth is, not everyone is as interested in the chronology of your life, as you think they are. Nor will they get the inside joke about you and Wallace falling over the cat after work (that time!). Inside jokes don’t always land the tickles, nor will a drawn out timeline of ages. Keep your stories punchy, and be mindful of time. A solid 5-minuter is a win.
# 4 – Apply the Sweet Spot
When it comes to audience attention span, there is a 10% retention rate with speeches that contain a whole lot of figures and facts. Add some visuals, artistic flare or musical engagement and booyah – audience attention increases to a whopping 75%. We call this a speaker’s “Sweet Spot” – and it really is the cream on top. Make sure you have at least one of these three sweet spots in your talk – then see the eyes shift from the blank candelabra stare, to you at the podium!
#5 – Breathe. Yes Breathe.
Pace and pause is important, but breathing slowly is the game changer. Before you speak, take one slow inhale at the podium, to calm your nerves and steady your hands. Then, exhale with a slow control. Begin. This simple exercise relaxes all the muscles in the body instantly, and opens up the throat. You got this! Please note: we caution against heavy breathing into the mic. Not a good idea. You may come off as over confident, or at the worst – psycho.