Tips

Finish early.

If you've been asked to speak for 30 minutes, shoot for 26. It's one way to ensure that you don't go over. Audience members may have to leave on-time, or the event you're attending may have a tight schedule. Never get to the point where they're tapping their feet and staring at their watches. Respect your audience.

 

Vary your voice.

People like variety. Vocal variety draws in your audience, renews their interest, and emphasizes key points. Change your pace, your volume, and your inflections; vary your sentence structure; and, of course, do it all naturally.

 

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice. Writing your speech is only half the job. You need to deliver it effectively -- and that takes practice. Rehearse your speech the same way you'll actually deliver it -- for example, either sitting or standing. And practice your speech out loud.

 

It's OK to read.

Don't feel compelled to memorize your entire speech. If you can, fine, but let's be realistic. There isn't always time to memorize entire speeches, and sometimes the material is too technical to be left to memory. If you work from notes, just be sure not to stare at them constantly. Instead, refer to your materials as casually as possible and maintain frequent eye contact with the audience. One more thing: Using notes is no excuse for not knowing your speech. When you deliver your speech, it should never sound as if you're seeing it for the first time.

 

Memorize your close.

Leave your audience with the best impression possible; that means, end strong. Look at your audience and delivier your closing word for word. It's the best way to underscore your conviction and credibility.

 

Keep it natural.

Being genuine goes a long way. People are more likely to respect, trust, and -- yes -- even like you if you're true to yourself. If you copy someone else's speaking style, you run the risk of coming across as a phony -- and that's never good for business or personal relationships.

 

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