How to Prepare a Great Speech

How to Prepare a Great Speech

Whether you’re giving a speech as a maid of honor or toasting an award winner, standing up to speak in front of a crowd of people can be nerve-wracking. (Even in[ a Zoom-based event!) There’s something about that moment when everyone’s eyes and ears are on you – it creates a pit in one’s stomach. The best way to combat this feeling? Arm yourself with a well-prepared speech.

Topic and Tone

Know the tone of the event. Weddings are a great example of an event that (generally speaking) always involves giving a speech, but the tone can vary depending on the happy couple. Some couples allow their wedding parties to give speeches full of jokes and side comments, while others want serious and loving toasts. Speaking to the hosts beforehand is a great way to avoid an awkward situation.

Timing

Before you begin writing your speech, find out if you will be allotted a specific amount of time. There’s nothing worse than the panic of having to cut your speech short the day of – or mid-speech! As a general rule of thumb, keep speeches and toasts short. The minds of the audiences tend to drift after a few minutes. 

TIP: Most people speak between 125 – 150 words per minute, so adjust your speech accordingly.

Practice 

The saying, “practice makes perfect!” is a saying for a reason. Although perfection may not be your goal, practicing your speech is key – even if you’re the most confident public speaker out there, practice! You might not need cue cards, but transcribing your speech to them can help you memorize your words – just like taking notes in school. Memorizing your speech (most likely) isn’t mandatory, but it does help if you do get nervous, as it allows muscle memory to take over. Just be sure to practice giving your speech out loud, not just by running through it in your head! 

TIP: If you tend to speed up when you’re nervous, practice stopping for a beat at punctuation marks!

On speech day, there are a few steps you can take to elevate nerves before they strike. In the morning, get up and dress for success in a way that makes you feel confident. Eat filling meals and stay hydrated throughout the day. (The last thing you want is your stomach to rumble while you’re at the mic!) Recite your speech to a friend – don’t ask them for opinions or to make changes, just practice giving your speech to an actual person. 

Take a deep breath, you’re well prepared, and you’ve got this!