By Peter Smith
You’ve written your Oratorical speech using our five preparation tips. But writing is just one part of making a great speech, now you have to present it in front of an audience.
If you’re nervous, that’s completely normal. Everyone gets nervous about public speaking. But with practice (in front of a mirror or other people), you will build up your confidence. And if you learn to use your charisma, you can be interesting and persuasive when sharing your message with the world. Here are some speaking strategies that will help you give an effective speech:
- Grab the Audience’s Attention. From the very start of your speech, you want to have your audience interested in what you have to say. Begin your speech in a way that will get people hooked-- it could be a personal story, question, or short declarative statement. Know your first lines by heart so you can speak them without looking down at your paper, and speak them clearly and loudly. That will convey confidence in what you have to say, and your audience will be listening.
- Project Your Voice. You will most likely be giving your speech in a church or hall, and these spaces can be quite large. Even though you will have a microphone, you should still project your voice so everyone can hear. Try not to speak when you look down at your speech because this can cause you to mumble and move away from the microphone.
- Vary your Pitch and Tone. No one wants to listen to a dial tone. Display your charisma by moving the pitch of your voice up and down and changing your tone as appropriate for your speech content. Move your voice up and use a happier tone for positive ideas, and move down for more somber statements. Just be careful not to be singsongy, which can be even worse than monotone. Also remember to smile! Smiling actually changes the sound of your voice and the emotional tone of your speech.
- Change Up the Speed. It is common for nervous speakers to speak too quickly. Don’t rush through your speech! Use a slower pace for important ideas you wish to emphasize. A speech that is all slow, however, will put everyone to sleep, so don’t be afraid to speed up in other areas to build excitement or anticipation for your next main point. Sometimes you have to experiment, and practice in front of someone else, to find the right speed to use for a certain section of your speech.
- Use Dramatic Pauses. Not only do you want to slow down your pace, but you should also use pauses for dramatic effect. After making an important point, pause for a couple of seconds and look out at your audience. That shows authority in your ideas and lets them sink in before you continue.
- Make Eye Contact. Memorize as much of your speech as you can so you can look up and make eye contact with the audience. Don’t stare off into the distance or focus on only one person. Move your focus over the crowd and make eye contact with one person at a time. Keep your focus for a second or two and move on. People are more likely to listen when they feel that you are speaking directly to them. Creating a brief connection with each individual listener is also a wonderful way to show your charisma!
- Use Effective Body Language. It isn’t all about your mouth and eyes. Use hand gestures to emphasize the important points of your speech and keep the audience’s attention. Stand firmly with both legs on the ground to show your confidence. It is common for nervous speakers to unconsciously shift their weight between legs or shake their legs repeatedly. This is distracting and only transfers your nervousness to your audience. Stopping these nervous movements takes self-control and practice.
- Finish with a Call to Action. The end of your speech should leave your audience with a positive message and call to action. Bringing together the ideas of your speech gives your listeners a reason to feel motivated to be a better Orthodox Christian with what they learned from you. When you motivate people to action, you leave them with a better impression of your speech!
Use these strategies, and the audience will sense your confidence and be more interested to hear what you have to say. The only thing left to do now is practice, practice, practice!