Giving a speech: 10 rhetoric tips to help you prepare

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Written by karriere tutor®

Whether it’s at a wedding with 100 guests or in a meeting room with colleagues, you know that queasy feeling in your stomach when it comes to giving a speech alone in front of an assembled crowd? Rhetoric is not something you are born with. But with good preparation and targeted practice, you too can become a competent speaker. We’ll show you how this works in the following 10 tips with practical examples.

Tip 1: Target group orientation

The most important thing when you are preparing a speech is to be oriented to your target audience. Ask yourself the following questions as you do so:

  • Who are you giving a speech to?
  • What interests the target group?
  • What is the background (age, profession, position) of your addressees?
  • What previous knowledge is available?

Tip 2: Clear structure and common thread

As you begin to build your speech, ask yourself first and foremost:

  • What do I want to say to my audience?

It sounds trivial. But let’s be honest: How many speeches have you heard and asked yourself: "What is he/she actually trying to tell us??"Therefore, in two to three short sentences, capture the message you want to get across.

In the second step, divide your speech into introduction, main body and conclusion.

Introduction

The key here is to grab attention. How to succeed? Try a bold thesis statement or images that evoke strong emotions. Or start by describing a personal observation that got you thinking yourself. Throw questions into the room, which you will come back to in the main part. These can then serve as the common thread of your presentation. By the way, handy cards on which you note down the most important points will help you not to lose this one.

Main body

In the main part you convey your core message. Alternate between facts and a story or anecdotes to create variety. Involve your audience in your presentation by asking them questions or short tasks.

Conclude

In the conclusion, you can put the icing on the cake by surprising your audience or making them laugh. This is how your speech will be remembered. Alternatively, conclude with a call to action to re-engage the audience. After all, your speech had a goal!

Tip 3: Set a time frame and stick to it

If you are holding your speech in a professional context, there is usually a set time frame that you must adhere to. But even independently of this, you should keep an eye on the time and remember that everyone has only a limited attention span. Therefore, do not talk for too long. Less is often more.

Tip 4: Selecting the presentation technique

First of all, it also depends on where you are holding your speech and what equipment you have available there. Then choose the right presentation technique for the occasion. A PowerPoint presentation is not always the best tool. A self-designed sketch on the flipchart or two to three selected pictures, which are projected on the wall by beamer and accompany your free speech, can be completely sufficient. People are enthusiastic about people and do not want to be inundated with PowerPoint slides.

Tip 5: Speak freely

Present freely, do not read off a script and keep eye contact with your audience. Therefore, use your preparation time to memorize the content of your speech. If you need a little memory aid during the presentation, it is best to take hand cards with bullet points.

Tip 6: Body language

An upright posture is a prerequisite for them to be able to speak freely and with a firm voice. Clothing that you feel comfortable in supports your self-confident appearance. But at the same time, it must be appropriate to the professional context in order to reflect your competence. Therefore, take enough time beforehand to choose the right wardrobe. Think about how you can use your body language during your presentation to add specific highlights to emphasize certain statements.

Tip 7: Figurative language

Formulate your speech pictorially and vividly: anecdotes, stories, parables, comparisons, similes – all these rhetorical devices help you to ensure that the audience listens to you and can follow you well. Because images can be processed by the human brain a thousand times faster than words. Have visual aids to pass around. This is how you address the haptic senses of your audience and let them participate in your presentation.

Tip 8: Voice

To find the right volume at the beginning, take the listener in the last row as a guide. Speak loudly enough so that he or she can also understand it well.

Try to vary your voice pitch when speaking. This is how you emphasize certain aspects and build up tension.

Tip 9: Conscious breaks

Plan deliberate pauses in your speech to allow the audience to arrive. With pauses, you not only give the audience time to process what you have said, but also time for food for thought. It also gives your statements more weight.

Tip 10: Speech and relaxation exercises against stage fright

Clear, concise speech is the key to being understood. So train your speech muscles with these short exercises:

  • Exercise 1 – Duration: 2 minutes:

Stand in front of a mirror and speak aloud: i / e / a / o / u.

  • Exercise 2 – Duration: 2 minutes:

Afterwards say "m" out loud.

  • Exercise 3 – duration: 2 minutes:

Now follows the "r".

  • Exercise 4 – Duration: 2 minutes:

Say the "r" loudly and exaggeratedly with different words,

z. B. Arms, chest, brakes etc.

Even the most experienced speaker has a bit of stage fright – and that’s just fine! Because of the inner tension – and the resulting adrenaline release – you are more concentrated in the matter and much more powerful.

To release increased pressure just before the speech, you can repeatedly breathe in and out deeply while pressing your outstretched arms against a wall with all your strength. For particularly important speeches, a dress rehearsal in a small circle in front of family members or friends is helpful.

Conclusion

Last but not least, there is only one thing to remember for your upcoming speech: Do not try to be perfect. Stay human and allow yourself to make mistakes. Do not take yourself too seriously. If you get lost talking, take it with humor. This makes you human and sympathetic. This is how you will win over your audience all by yourself.

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