For the benefit of anybody faced with the task of making a speech here are a few brief pointers
Read your speech or memorise it?
Few people are willing to trust everything to memory. An alternative is to thoroughly familiarise yourself with your speech and then reduce it to a set of brief notes on cue cards. The advantage is that your speech will not sound as if it is being read word for word. But if you do decide to read it, nobody will mind.
Whatever you decide - rehearse it. Then rehearse it again - until you are sick of it. That should be about right.
What ruins more speeches than anything else is a nervous speaker going too fast. He doesn't pause to let his points sink in and doesn't wait for the laughs he wants. His audience is then so busy trying to catch what he's gabbling about that they don't have time to laugh. Oh dear - no laughs. What does our speaker do? Panics and accelerates even more. Result - disaster! Even experienced speakers suffer this urge to speed up. Don't give in to it.
Stand up straight and look confident. Even if you are reading, look up and at your audience from time to time. Eye contact makes them feel you are talking to them, and it will help you with your pauses.
If you expect a laugh - wait for it. If it doesn't come tell people they were supposed to laugh and refuse to go on until they do. That will kick start them. Don't begin again until the laughter has died down - enjoy it. Study professional comedians - you'll learn a lot.
Enjoy interruptions, especially funny ones. They provide thinking time, and hey… people will remember it was your speech that got the laughs; they won't remember that it wasn't always your lines.
Don't drink too much before speaking. You might think it helps, but your audience won't.
Two final important points to remember:
1. The audience is on your side. They want to enjoy your speech - give them the opportunity
2. If you get a totally unexpected laugh - check your flies
These basic rules will help you make a memorable presentation. If you're also working with a professionally written speech to begin with - you should be on a real winner.
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