Talk slowly. If it takes 12 minutes, not nine, it doesn’t matter at all.
Pause for effect. Your audience needs time to digest the story before they get the punchline. So give them time to get it.
Emphasise key words. Imagine you’re telling a story without a script. You’ll say some words louder than most, and change your inflection on others.
Practise. However well written the speech, you don’t want to be ‘reading’ it. Know it well enough that it just becomes a safety net.
Gesticulate. Body language is vital. If you’re addressing someone, look at them. Use your arms to emphasise a point.
Be put off by a heckle. You can prepare a couple of responses to a noisy member of the crowd.
Give in to the shakes. Paste your speech onto a card. Or rest it somewhere you can see it. Find out if there’s a lectern. Holding a shaky piece of paper will put you off before you get going
Get drunk beforehand. It may feel like the easy way to get through it, but it won’t seem so sensible afterwards.
Just read it out. Great material is irrelevant if it’s delivered badly. You’ll be much more natural when you’re not reading straight from the page.
The context for your speech
1. At what stage in the event will you be speaking?
2. Who is giving the other speeches and what will they mainly be talking about?
3. What’s the order of speeches?
4. Who will be introducing you?
5. Do you know that person, and if so, is there anything humorous we can say about him or her?
6. How do you think he or she is likely to introduce you?
7. Will you be finishing with a toast? If so, who to?
1. Who are you principally talking about?
2. How do you know him/her?
3. When did you meet him/her?
4. Where and when was he/she born?
5. Where did he/she go to school?
6. Are there any great stories associated with this period?
7. Did he/she go to college / University? Any stories here?
8. What was his / her first job?
9. What jobs has he/she done subsequently? Any great work stories?
10. What does he/she do now?
11. Could you describe him/her physically?
12. Could you describe his / her personality in three words?
13. What are his/ her main hobbies/interests?
14. Can you give a brief outline of his/ her family situation?
15. Can you give an example of a great story or two that you’ve been involved in with him/her? (when was it?)
16. If there was a theme to hold your description of him/her together, what would it be?
1. Is there someone else fundamental to making this speech work?
2. Can you give a brief outline of their life?
3. And the role that they’ve played in changing the life of your main subject?
Any other subjects
Who else do you want to mention and what do you want to say about them?
Your speaking style
1. What proportion of the speech would you like to be sincere and what proportion funny?
2. How long would you like to speak for?
3. Are you, by nature, shy or extrovert?
4. How nervous will you be when you stand up to speak?
5. How would you like to introduce yourself?
1. How many people will be there?
2. How many of them will know you?
3. Do you expect it to be a relatively sedate or loud atmosphere?
What can’t we mention?
Are there subjects not covered above that you know will amuse/interest your audience?
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