Every event has a speech moment. No matter the circumstances, be it a silent disco, at some point in time, someone will call for hush to address invited guests.

Supposing that someone is you; how do you approach this assignment in an interesting and effortless way? Obviously, many of us will suddenly break out in cold sweat and simply turn it down when asked to make a few words. Others will gladly take it up and deliver a remarkable performance, but this does not mean they were not in a constant state of panic!

It is normal to become nervous in the presence of an audience with all those eyes glued on you. To survive what many of us might consider this ordeal, preparation is crucial. Arthur Ashe, the first black to win Wimbledon once wrote, ‘One important key to success is self–confidence’. However self–confidence comes from being thoroughly prepared. Preparation gives you a full package of the basic qualities necessary for you to make that speech.

First, it is important to get prior information about the audience you are going to address and the type of event. Then you will have an idea of what to say, how to deliver the words and judge the length of your remarks. Are you addressing teenagers, (who may not always be patient); family members; business partners or potential clients, the elderly or an all-round gathering? Clearly understand the basic purpose of the event then craft your speech around this knowledge. For you to earn the audience’s full attention a fact check is necessary. This gives the audience confidence that you know what you’re talking about.

It’s also great to give your audience a simple, short and clear brief about the event in that opening speech. There is always someone who is not quite sure and may need some background that will make them feel at home. But it is also vital that you keep it interesting for your audience so that by the time you are done they are looking forward to the next activities.

Where it’s necessary you will need to write down your talking points as a guideline so that you don’t get lost in the mess of information in your head. Talking points will help you get your speech in a chronological order a necessity for easier delivery.

By the way, get to know the people that need to be introduced to the audience and get their names and titles right, with the correct pronunciation! Mispronouncing names is enough to trigger nerves and mess you up for the rest of the speech. In case of acknowledgements and introductions, the talking points will help you get protocol in order.

One way to settle the nerves is through some small talk before you get into your speech. This will help create a connection with the audience and ease any lingering tension in the room. And never forget humour because that tends to win the crowd over. Finally, it is advisable to write your own speech so that you are comfortable with it. Even if someone has written it for you, go through it several times until you feel you own it and the words come out naturally.

About the Author: Immaculate Namanda

Immaculate has a solid grounding in account management. She knows the market, with skills in strategic positioning, media and client relations together with project coordination and management. Prior to joining WMC Africa, she headed media relations, brand positioning, strategic writing, CSI initiatives and events management at the Alam Group.

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