Address the audience

  • Think about where you are and who your audience is. Mention each different group or person present when addressing your audience. It is impolite to leave anyone out.

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

Madame President, members of the press, citizens of the United States of America…

My darling grandmother, friends and family…

  • Keep speaking directly to the audience using “you” every once in a while. Ask rhetorical questions and involve the audience somehow.
  • Use English that is appropriate to the occasion. Formal or informal depending on the audience.

Be aware of structure

  1. Address the audience
  2. Explain who you are and why everyone has gathered to the place.
  3. Be clear about the purpose of your speech.
  4. Expand the topic: anecdotes, jokes, information etc.
  5. Remind everyone once again who, what, where, when and why = a conclusion.
  6. Use topic sentences and linking words.
  7. Your last sentence should be a powerful one – it might be the only one the audience will remember!
  8. Thank you.

Use hyperbole and metaphors

  •  Use exaggeration to evoke strong feelings in the audience, but try to avoid cliches.

Millions of African children die each day of Aids. We must help.

  • A few clever metaphors might spice up your speech.

Politics is like football, everyone is trying to win.

Don’t be afraid of repetition!

  • Begin similar points with the same words (but not excessively!).

I am but a child, and yet I know we should pick up litter.

I am but a child, and yet I know we should not lie.

I am but a child, ad so I believed my father when he said everything would be ok. But it is not ok when you adults litter and lie all the time.

Own that podium!

  • Relax.
  • Look everyone in the eye.
  • Stand up straight.
  • Speak slowly.
  • Use gestures in the right places.
  • Pause to give certain words and sentences a more powerful effect.
  • Know your speech by heart so that you do not stumble on the words.

Now it’s your turn to give it a go and try out speech techniques. Choose one of the following scenarios and create a 60-second speech on Share it with the rest of the class in a comment.

  1. Pretend that you are either Michelle or Barack Obama. One of your daughters is getting married and you give a congratulatory speech at their wedding.
  2. You are a young Jew from the 1940s. You get the chance to speak in front of the Nazi Party and plead with Hitler to save your people and stop  the genocide.