Overview and Tips on Giving Speeches 

Published October 21, 2010

The 15-25 minute speeches included in this section of the tool kit are designed to provide you with a general framework for giving a speech on specific topics. You may wish to modify the speeches to your specific services, include relevant anecdotes, emphasize some aspects, or completely eliminate others as appropriate or where time is a concern. It is extremely important to tailor the information and customize it to your particular audience. For example, you may want to provide relevant geographical or local information, or give examples that are meaningful to your specific audience. Although these speeches have been reviewed from a national standpoint, we also recommend that you review them for state and local accuracy.

These timely, canned speeches can help you establish a reputation in your community as a valuable source of information. You also may attract new clients as well as secure your position as a credible professional. Try pitching an idea for a speech to community organizations or town officials and let them know exactly how it would benefit their constituents. Once you have established yourself as a speaker, requests may come to you directly. Here are some basic tips for giving speeches.

  • Practice the speech aloud and then use note cards to prompt you rather than reading the script verbatim. Delivering from notes or outlines is far more interesting and effective.
  • To hold the audiences attention, target the speech to their needs and interests as much as possible.
  • Don't use technical jargon or condescending language. Keep it simple.
  • Research the backgrounds and experiences of the audience and then be sure to weave into the speech a few contemporary issues that are of particular interest or concern to them.
  • A bit of levity can be very effective in renewing audience interest and attention. Where possible, include personal anecdotes or other appropriate stories.
  • Use notable quotes to add appeal and demonstrate your resourcefulness.
  • Inflection enables you to emphasize key points and helps to prevent monotony.
  • Pause between thoughts, giving the audience time to absorb statements.
  • Consider using audiovisual aids such as a videotape, graphics or slides, especially if the speech conveys a lot of numbers or comparative information.
  • Body language is extremely important. Don't slouch or weave from side to side.
  • Make frequent eye contact with the audience. Smile and use hand gestures to emphasize key points.


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