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Speech Basics

Presenting the Speech

Having written your speech, read it and re-read it until you are completely familiar with the sequence of thought.
Memorize only the beginning and the ending.
Then write brief reminders of the important points in their proper order on cards or small sheets of paper. These notes should be in ink, and if possible, printed in letters large enough to be read at arm's length.
It is also wise to number the cards.
Be sure to take the cards with you when you go to speak!

Interesting and well-prepared material can be made even more acceptable to the audience if the speaker keeps in mind a few points about the delivery. A well-known short comment states them well: Stand up, speak up, and shut up!

When you are introduced Take a little time to move to the centre of the platform, or make some natural gesture such as moving an object if you are at a table. Then look at your audience for two or three seconds while you take a few deep breaths. That will help you throw off the sudden nervousness of the moment and create an atmosphere of respect and anticipation in the audience.

Address those present Use the appropriate form (''Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen", etc.) and speak clearly and distinctly. If some remark in the introduction or unusual situation in the meeting can be commented upon you Will have the advantage of getting used to the acoustics of the room, and the audience, before you begin the text of your speech.

Make sure that those in the back row can hear what you are saying
Never begin with an apology such as "I'm not much of a speaker" or "I don't know why I was called upon".

Look at your audience The audience should feel that you are talking to them. Several methods are used by experienced speakers.
Some choose a few people who seem to be listening attentively, scattered throughout the audience, and talk to each of them at different times. Other speakers focus their eyes about three-quarters of the way back and let them move from side to side as they talk. Still others will talk to the back row, but occasionally emphasize an important statement by directing it to the people imrnediately in front of them.

Speak up! You must speak loudly enough for everyone in the audience to hear you but, at the same time, there must be enough variation in the pitch of your voice to avoid monotony. Nearly everyone uses three inflections of the speaking voice, a low, grave quality which expresses seriousness or sadness, a middle range for ordinary conversation, and a higher pitch that expresses happiness, excitement or indignation.

The medium range will be used for most of your speech of course, but the other two shourd be used where appropriate in order to add interest. If you have an important message to put across, lower the pitch of your voice (not the volume). If you have an exciting statement to make, use the higher tone. We do these things naturally in ordinary conversaiion but sometimes forget to make use of them when we increase the volume of our voices for the benefit of a large audience.

Enunciate clearly We all fall into bad habits of enunciation in the hurry of everyday life. We fail to open our mouths and we slur over syllables. Listeners soon tire of a speaker if they cannot understand every word. On the other hand, we do not sound natural or interesting if every syllable is equally stressed; that sounds stiff and forced. Good speech has a pattern of varied stresses like music. We should practise speaking with a relaxed jaw making full use of the tongue, lips and teeth. If the mouth is open the words will be projected at full volume toward the audience and win not emerge muffled and dim as they do through almost-clenched teeth and taut face muscles.

Watch your posture Proper breathing is of great importance in good voice production. Use your diaphragm and fill the lower part of yourlungs. A speaker who uses only his chest and upperlungs for breathing will grow short of breath. This will make him nervous and tense. The consequent constriction of the muscles will cause further shortness of breath. He may blame the shortness of breath on his nervousness, but poor posture is the real cause.

Speaking a little more slowly than you do in ordinary conversation also helps you to breathe more deeply and naturally. It will also make it easier for the audience to understand you.

Stand in a relaxed and comfortable position but avoid any appearance of listlessness. Keep your feet together, a little apart, or one ahead of the other, whichever is comfortable. Good posture will make control of your breathing easier. Some people find it helpful to check their posture before a fun-length mirror.

Good posture will help you to look keen and alert, and give the audience the feeling that you are pleased to be speaking to them. You should not grin, of course, but they will appreciate you if they feel you are enthusiastic and sincere.
Don't be afraid to move about a little once in a while. You should always feel free to use your hands and arms to emphasize a point or to look at your notes. Be sure your movements are natural. Freedom of movement will make your talk seem easy and conversational if it is not overdone.

End on a strong note Make the last statement of your speech sound as strong and positive as it seemed when you wrote it.
Remember that it is not logical to say "thank you" unless you have asked for permission to speak.


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