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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California


Speeches are like babies – easy to conceive, hard to deliver.

Doing your homework before a speech will improve the chances of your success dramatically. Here are some things you can do to be prepared:

  1. Contemplate what you have to offer. Think about:

    • Why you were chosen as the presenter. You will want to maximize any advantage you have. This could include knowing the subject matter best or being regarded as the most articulate.

    • What you have in common with the audience. You will want to use any means possible to bond with the audience, such as stressing common backgrounds and experiences. You may also refer to people in the audience, particularly those who are well regarded.

  2. Consider what you want people to do when you are done, then picture how detailed you will need to be to give them the tools to make the change. Also, contemplate how you can get them to think about the application of your idea. Consider introducing polls from time to time so that you can assess the impact of your ideas and the level of enthusiasm. Polls also demonstrate your interest in the opinions of the audience.

  3. Keep it short and simple. Speeches often take longer than planned. Consider that

    • people get bored quickly;

    • the average attention span of most adults is seven minutes;

    • having too many ideas will be confusing.

    Then plan how to keep the message short and to the point.

  4. Think about your audience members. Are they looking for inspiration? entertainment? facts? new ideas? a game plan?

  5. Plan to incorporate a metaphor or analogy to improve understanding of your key idea.

  6. If you intend to use humour, be sure that you are able to do so without hesitation. Tell the joke to as many people as possible in order to test it and improve your ability to deliver the punchline effectively.

  7. Consider what you want out of the experience. Do you want to entertain your audience members? Inform them? Teach them new skills? Having clinched the key objective, build your presentation with the appropriate goal and process.

  8. Give yourself ample time to prepare. You will be able to collect lots of ideas if you do.

  9. As ideas come to mind, write them down in one place.

  10. When you craft the speech, put all key ideas on Post-It Notes. Stick them on a wall so that you can see them all. Then

    • group like ideas together;

    • decide the order of the different ideas.

  11. Record key ideas on 3-by-5-inch cue cards. Write key points on each cue card in large, bold letters.

  12. Rehearse your speech both in your mind and out loud. Stand up when you do a dry run. Stick your chest out and stand as tall as you can — it will enhance your confidence.

  13. Develop a checklist of items you need to take with you or have available.

  14. Check out the room in which you will be making the speech. Try to anticipate any problems, such as poor acoustics, and know how you will overcome them.

  15. Visualize yourself being very successful. Picture yourself "wowing" the audience.

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