6 Tips for preparing a winning speech

  1. Internalise the main ideas
    How do you prepare for a speech? Sometimes people think that they need to write a speech and then work hard at memorising the script.  The downfall of this technique is that sometimes phrases and sentences when written, do not sound as good when said.  Instead, try writing a speech, and then condensing your script to the main ideas and key words.  From your dot points, rehearse your speech aloud by flowing freely based on how you normally talk. Practising in this way will help your speaking seem more natural and relaxed.
  2. Remember your audience
    When planning and writing your speech, think about who you are presenting to.  Your audience dictates the language that you use, the way you frame your argument, and how you deliver your speech. For instance, if the speech is for a non-specialist audience, use language that is easily understood and avoid jargon. Also, consider the audience’s motivation for listening and link your content to how it is relevant to them. Why should people be interested in your speech?
  3. Drum-home your take-home messages
    Think about what you would like audience members to remember one week after your speech. What is your main take-home message? Ensure that this idea is in the forefront of your audiences minds at all times by centring your speech on this. You should also open and close your speech on your main point or a hard-hitting related message.  For instance, my thesis is about mothers and babies. Therefore I opened my 3MT speech by asking the audience to reflect about when they thought the relationship between a mother and her child first begins.   
  4. Seek feedback
    Practice in front of people and ask for suggestions on ways you can improve.  As an added bonus, this will help build your confidence and give you an opportunity to rehearse your speech. Make sure you get a variety of perspectives, such as those familiar and unfamiliar with your field of study. Try to see the truth in every comment given to you, but also remember to filter which comments you take on board, so that you can still stay truly ‘you’ in your presentation. 
  5. Structure your message logically
    Structure the content of your speech in a logical way. This could mean starting with an overview, progressing to the main content, and closing with a summary of your points.  Alternatively, it could take on a narrative form and begin with you setting the stage and providing background information, then taking the audience on a journey through your points before reaching your conclusion.
  6. Be passionate
    No one wants to listen to a boring speaker. Someone who speaks in a dull drone and a monotonous voice will put everyone to sleep. To overcome this trap, invigorate your speech with passion and energy.  Honestly believe that your speech is the best thing ever, and your job is to convince others of the same. Sell your story by varying the pitch of voice, using intentional hand gestures, and by employing various facial expressions. Enthusiasm is contagious so if you love your topic, your audience will too. 
Last updated:
7 June 2017