Speeches . Most of us have to make one at some point and it is a genuinely terrifying prospect - standing up in front of other people and basically asking them to judge you on whatever opinion you have decided to put across. I am by no means an 'eager public speaker' and have next to no experience in that, having done one speech in February of this year on Self Service Checkouts "of all things" (to quote my English teacher ).
Here, I am just going to 'relive' (quote unquote) my experience and in doing so give some tips and examples of what I should have done, what I could have done and what I might have done had I had someone to learn from their mistakes.
1. Choose your topic carefully
By saying this, I may as well be standing on the rooftop screaming 'don't do what I did !' Into a megaphone. When you are hit with the news that you are going to have to write a speech, and not only that, you are going to have to perform it in front of your peers, your mind usually draws a complete blank .
- Do not use this as an opportunity to latch on to the first idea that pops into your head unless you are definitely sure that that is what you want to do . It may end up sounding quite petty and ignorant compared to some of the issues in other people's speeches (personal experience, yes).
- Choose something relevant, something interesting to others and most importantly, something you are actually interested in yourself.
- The best speeches I heard were about politically fore-fronted ideas, such as Inequality, Feminism and Racism. All had strong arguments, logical conclusions and offered practical solutions to the problems they were portraying.
- If you don't have any burning passions or ideas, that is OK.
- Ask around a bit , see what other people are doing and take inspiration from them.
- Remember that at the end of the day , you are being judged on the quality of your speech, not the originality of it.
2. Do research!
This may be the most important step in ensuring that your speech is good and respectable having a lot of statistics and quotes show that you aren't alone in your opinion and that you have the skills to portray that evidence in an enlightening way.
- Literally anything can be found on the internet, so no matter your stance, you will be able to find something promoting your opinion, and something else demoting it.
- In the words of everyone and their hamster, use reputable sources (which to be fair, is easier said than done).
- Most of the time , statistics and things will vary depending on what you look at, and finding definitive numbers is near impossible. Just go with whatever seems the most probably - and to be fair , no one is going to check - teachers usually say you can just make up statistics anyway.
- If you are using anything you have taken from a website, or book, or whatever, try and give reference to that person or site . Of course, it does seem quite pointless and literally no one is going to check if you don't, but it makes your writing seem more legitimate and well researched.
3. Your speech is in English, not gobbeldegook
Try to avoid technical language, literary waffle and show - offish vocabulary.
- It should be formal, polite, well written, and understandable.
- No one is going to listen to you or catch anything that you are saying if the only things that they can hear are 'asinine monopolization ' and 'quasi-efficient robots' ( To use just a few examples of my pretentious language).
- Try to keep large words and technical jargon to a minimum, and maximise the amount of rhetorical techniques used (as I am sure will be drilled into you a lot).
- Try and keep the focus on the topic of your speech and avoid going off into tangents about other , less relevant things .
- Don't worry if it is a bit too long or a bit short. If you are happy with it and feel like you put in the required amount of effort, that is all that matters. I think my speech was about 4-5 minutes long, but I heard some that were more like 7 or 8 and others that barely filled 2.
4. Delivery is important - but perhaps not the most important
Chances are, this is the part of the speech process you are most dreading. And yes. It is terrifying, I am not going to to lie to you. I'm not going to berate you with 'It's not as bad as it seems' or 'you are overreacting ' or 'don't worry, you will feel better afterwards' and 'there are much bigger things than this speech, no one cares' etc, as most of the time these either aren't true or they aren't helpful in any way. Your feelings are totally real and unless you are a naturally confident or calm person, you are bound to feel scared . Some randomer on a blog isn't going to change that .
Also, in my experience, the delivery of your speech is not the thing you are marked on, it is the speeches content. In my case, all the delivery did was bump you up a mark if the teacher found it particularly outstanding.
Bearing that in mind
- Try not to go too fast (easier said than done , yes)
- Maybe add in pauses and things for dramatic effect. If you can't remember where they are supposed to go, write them on to your flash cards as no one is going to see them anyway
- Deliver it in the best way you can deliver it, given how you feel . Don't compare your speech to another classmates speech, and definitely don't compare deliveries as all that really is is a confidence test.
All in all , just try and enjoy the speech writing process.
I hope you learned a bit from my mistakes, and that you choose a topic that you are at least marginally satisfied with.
Megan, Year 9