How to Start a Speech

WRITTEN July 24, 2014 Author: Rich Atkins

Preparing to communicate effectively (for example: Starting a Speech) means that it will take more time in preparation than it will in delivery.

Just like in the painting world, where preparation time is greater than actual paint time. Remember, preparing is extremely important if you want the paint job—or communication—to end up looking like it was done by a professional.

When you are planning and ready to start a speech, or are going to write something, go through these steps to prepare:

1.) Consider Audience / Determine Purpose

Analyze and understand the audience. Think about who you are speaking to, and what you want them to learn. Ask yourself:

  • Why am I presenting?
  • What do I want them to know or do after the presentation?
  • Over-Simplify It: I want you to __________.

2.) Gather Information

  • Think. Brainstorm for ideas. What do you want to say? What do you want them to know?
  • Research the topic to explore more. You are planning a speech, find out who else is talking about this, and why.
  • Gather evidence for support (Statistics, Testimonials, Anecdotes, Analogies, etc).
  • Organize – Figure out your main points and show your audience that you care by putting the material in an order that will make sense.

3.) Plan – Compose Notes / Draft

Write freely and quickly – the first draft is for content. Make sure you have everything in it that you want them to know. It can and will be revised and edited.

  • Define your opening statement.
  • Use the information compiled during planning.
  • Set up your conclusion.

You should also do a second draft and focus more on the presenting. If the first draft is content, the second draft is style. During this edit:

  • Decide what content works to support your topic.
  • Remove things that drag you away from your focus.
  • Build a coherent narrative to present what you want to say.

4.) Practice, Deliver, Revise

  • Present the speech.
  • Listen for consistent tone.
  • Edit and refine. Take out words and sentences if they are not necessary. You can still keep the same meaning and spirit, just don’t drag it out. Brevity is good.
  • Check for clarity. If you listened to this speech, would you be clear on what to do with the information?
  • Verify word choice. Use audience-appropriate / user-friendly language.
  • Improve style. Re-position points to improve the flow of information.
  • Practice using your visuals. Visuals are meant to enhance your speech. Make sure they support your topic and do not distract the audience from you, and what you are saying.
  • Present the speech – again. Fine someone to watch your presentation. Use a “test” audience, if you can, or even just a voice or video recorder.

We all have times when we need to speak in public. Whether you are talking in a team meeting (online or in the office) or presenting in front of a larger audience, make sure you are prepared. Follow the tips outlined here and with thorough preparation and practice, you will perform exceptionally well.

This information is discussed in our Introduction to Public Speaking curriculum and our Public Speaking Online Class. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our upcoming public classes or webinars.

Other Resources – START A Speech:

25 Public Speaking Skills Ever Speaker Should Have

How To Begin Your Speech Planning And Design

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

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