Sunday, May 10, 2015

Public Speaking tips - Three points to help you improvise your speech

Life rarely goes according to plan and the ability to improvise can help steer you back on track. Especially on the night I was invited to be a speaker for the Kwantlen Entrepreneurial Student Association (KESA). Here are the top three public speaking tips that helped me improvise and change my pre-planned speech so that it matched the tone/expectations of the event.

Source: Bruno Belcastro

All speakers for the evening had pre-set themes that the organizers wanted us to cover and I had the very complex topic of “Navigating technology”. What made the event unexpected for me was that the keynote speaker right before me would be covering what makes great public speaking and he set very very clear expectations for the crowd! With each key point in his speech I was beginning to feel the pressure because I had organized my presentation a differently from the expectations he was setting. Being the follow up speaker, I decided that I needed to improvise parts my speech to match the key note and the tone set for the evening. Surprisingly, at the end of the event they said they would like to invite me back in the future so I’d say it was a success! Here are my public speaking tips:

1 ) Don’t improvise all of the speech

If you know what topic you need to cover, then you don’t need improvise all of your speech as there should be a specific goal for the topic. Similar to planning a trip and using a map, determine what the main points to your message are and those will be the key turns you can’t miss or your audience won’t end up where you want them to be. What you improvise on stage is how you get to each of those main points.

2 ) Frame your speech as a story and practice, practice, practice !

As you deliver your material frame each main point similar to a story with beginning, middle/challenge, ending and solution. Then practice and know the main points of your story inside and out. This is because when you know it almost by heart, you’ll be able to explain it a bunch of different ways without losing sight of the core meaning behind your main points. Now you’ll be able to focus purely on the delivery of your speech and improvising the transition between the points. Lastly if you find that you are drawing up a blank in your mind, you can just default back to what you originally had been practicing.

3 ) Practice your conclusion/ending extensively

I’ve been a part of toast masters where you do improvised speeches quickly and what I’ve seen always helps significantly make them better is a strong conclusion. Sometimes because you’re improvising the transition and connection between points can be unclear for the audience. However, I’ve seen speakers solve the problem of a disjointed improvised speech effectively through having a conclusion that draws out the connections and leading the audience to having their “ah-ha” moment. Leave the stage with a strong conclusion.


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By Stevie Vu
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