Most of us don’t like giving speeches. Unfortunately, sometimes there’s no way to weasel out of delivering them. Maybe your jerk boss asks you to put together a presentation. Or your jerk friend decides to get married and you have to give a toast. Or some jerk milkman leaves an empty milk crate on the street for you to stand to warn people about the end of the world. Whatever the situation is, you need to be ready to perform when the time comes.
To help you pull it off without embarrassing yourself, we asked Daniel Rex, executive director at Toastmasters International, for pointers on how to give an engaging speech.
Test Your Material
Write down what you’re planning to say and practice. And when you’re done practicing, rehearse a little more. Then you should find an audience to practice in front of to help you iron out any kinks. Ask your girlfriend, a coworker, the homeless guy on the corner — anyone. When it’s over, ask which parts of your speech worked, and which parts made them want to pelt you with tomatoes.
Control Your Mannerisms
You might use the word “like” too often, or say “uhh” during every pause, or maybe you tap your fingers on the desk or podium. Not only will those subconscious tics make you look like an amateur, they’ll also distract the audience. Since you won’t notice them — trying to find them would like trying to smell your own breath — ask your rehearsal audience to spot them. And make sure you tell them to be brutally honest. It might sting a little, but a few people calling you out will be much less humiliating than an entire room.