Each speech should comprise of an introduction, the main body and a conclusion and this is the structure of any talk. The introduction should be a maximum of two minutes as attention spans are very short. You need to make sure you have the attention of your audience and they have an expectation that you will start well, so make your introduction count.

The body of your speech gives the details which is better if you deliver it in bite size pieces. Break your content down into key points or sections, it will be much easier to remember that way and if you practice well, you will get everything in the correct order. If you have statistics or researched information, this will enable you to expand your subject. Don’t read your speech word for word as you will lose spontaneity and this prevents eye contact which means you will lose the attention of your audience. You know how much time you are allocated and this will allow you to set each section to time.

The conclusion should briefly sum up what you have said and should be strongly delivered rather than just trailing off to end your speech.

There are several ways in which you can put a speech together, you can sit down with a blank sheet of paper, write the topic in the middle then elsewhere note your formula (introduction, body, conclusion) and your approach (main idea, divide into key points, select supporting material etc). Rehearse your speech repeatedly, trimming it for timing and do it until it sounds more or less the same three times in a row. Any notes you use should be written big and bold enough to read from a lectern that is away from you, remember the light on the stage may be poor. If you are using visual aids, arrive at the venue early to set them up and make sure they work and are positioned to the best advantage. Use these to complement a speech and remember not to speak to them, you are speaking to an audience.

A speech is really you talking to friends in the audience. Remember that, make sure you are organised and your nerves won’t let you down.

From Speakeasy 134 – April 2010