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I Am Giving a Speech

QuidQuid Definitely not a bananaRegistered User regular
edited March 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
In Chinese no less as is the trend with my threads. I volunteered for a speech contest after my teachers insisted and, while I'm relatively confident, I've never spoken in front of a group larger than a half dozen people, much less an auditorium. I'm in the process of writing it right now but was curious if there's anything I should know about giving a speech. Any tips or advice are welcome since I've never actually prepared one.

Quid on

Posts

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    A lot of it is going to depend on what exactly your speaking style is. I would suggest you rehearse it ahead of time, and time yourself. Expect to go faster when you're actually doing the speaking than when you rehearse it. Train yourself not to use words like "um" and "like" when you need to hesitate; just go ahead and take a moment's pause. Practice in front of a mirror. You can have notecards, but don't be reading the speech, just use them to refresh your memory when necessary. Make sure that you're looking at your audience. Enunciate, speak loudly and clearly. If you're using a microphone, don't count on the microphone to do your work for you; speak as if it weren't there, and the sound guy will handle the rest.

    Thanatos on
  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Thanatos wrote: »
    You can have notecards...
    Actually, no I can't. Though I'll certainly use them when practicing.

    Quid on
  • Limp mooseLimp moose Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    make your body language as much like this as possible!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM6z8oljZEk

    in all seriousness speech angry. Since you will be in front of a military crowd they are used to getting briefed. The greatest advice I ever got is to brief angry and practice practice practice. The more focused and level headed you are the more clear and concise your speech will be and the better you will get your point across.

    Time yourself in practice and make sure you are aware of your body language. Don't have a pen or pointer in your hand because you will find yourself playing with it and that is distracting. Make sure you know and understand the material you are using (Chinese) before hand. Also start and end with a joke. If everyone there is giving a speech people are going to lose interest fast. So keep it short, interesting, and funny.

    Limp moose on
  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Er, not a military crowd. In fact it will mainly be a college crowd. The contest is between Chinese schools in the area. It just so happens that DLI is in the area.

    Short won't be an issue. The limit is five minutes and I don't plan on going past three. I do have the benefit of interesting anecdotes though compared to most people and the speech will be centering around them.

    Quid on
  • SarcastroSarcastro Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    So a basic five pointer?

    It really depends on what kind of speech it is; persuasive, congratulatory, informative, personal, inspirational, etc.

    Five minutes isn't much, enough for an general overview of one topic. In contests, I had excellent success coupling the five stages of loss with the five point essay. Denial, anger, bargaining, 'depression' and acceptance.

    You start with a bit of comedy, or bizarre fact that seems to be untrue (intro). Make them give their head a shake; laughter is a great way to create a willingness to listen. Step up to an angry position, the emotive shock at a certain situation (1st point or thesis). Enter into counter arguments, trials and errors; actions and reactions to mirror bargaining in a social or reactionary context (2nd and 3rd points). Move into solutions or argument support with the negatives presented first, then follow immediately into simple supported fact.

    Tthe 'depression' stage in this case is simply a more serious tone, or perhaps presents the inherent negatives to your position or experience. Near the end of this point, you'll want to lighten up the tone and present serious positives (which should obviously outweigh your negatives in both personal and persuasive styles). The acceptance stage is the statement of growth and change, the support of the thesis, and the expectations of results. Ideally this should subtly take all points into consideration, leading the listener to the same conclusion, which can then be absorbed by them and taken in.

    Essentially, to maximize impact, you'll want to promote the conditions typically leading to acceptance by the listener. Fortunately, the vast majority of people are hardwired to respond in this way; you're simply taking advantage of a cognitive structure already in place and using it to amplify reception. Content, though important, is almost secondary to the delivery method. With both good content and delivery in play, your message will sink in and be considered informative and effective.

    That's mostly for vs. mode, I might play things differently if I was a keynote speaker. But you said contest, and this method certainly worked out for me.

    Sarcastro on
  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    That pattern is eerily applicable to my rough draft.

    Quid on
  • chromdomchromdom Who? Where?Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I was always taught this structure:
    1) Say what you're going to say.
    2) Say it.
    3) Say what you said.

    That is to say, intro where you let the audience know what you're going to be talking about.
    Then the meat, the body of the speech. 3 main points here is standard, but yours is going to be pretty short, so maybe just 1.
    Finally, conclusion. "As you can see from my example/evidence/story, what I told you before is true/correct/good."

    As far as not being nervous, practice. Practicing in a mirror is great, as is tape recording yourself. Take cards on stage even if you can't use them; what are they going to do, run up and rip them out of your hands? Practice in front of people, people who are going to be there if possible.
    I strongly recommend against memorizing your speech word for word, but it does help some people. I think it presents more problems then it helps with, but if you just have to get through it, verbatim memorization is an option.

    chromdom on
  • The Lord of HatsThe Lord of Hats Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I find that three-point speeches work better, but the competitions I do, I only have half an hour to prepare a speech, and political topics lend themselves to that anyways. But composition isn't really what you came here for, though I will have a bit to say on that.

    In preparation, I find that unless you're performing something written by somebody else, it's more valuable to just have an idea of the points you want to hit in your speech, and how you want the speech to flow. The audience doesn't know your script ahead of time, so if you accidentally put two facts out of order, it really doesn't matter. If you're focusing well (more on that later), you should be able to refine your next line out of vague concept easily enough even as you're delivering the previous one.

    What I find myself doing, though I don't know if this goes so much for other people, is I almost completely ignore my surroundings, particularly the people watching me. Even though I'm looking in their direction, I'm not actually focusing on anything external. All I'm paying attention to is my delivery of the speech.

    Another thing that helps, on the compostion level, is to try and stick to short sentences, and use rhetorical questions. Short sentences give you a bit more pause to sort out your next thought, and they also stick in the head better than run-on sentences. Rhetorical questions are great for making sure that the audience is thinking along the line you want them to, and also stick out in the mind afterwards.

    But yeah, practice is key. Keep doing it until you internalize most of what you need to be doing. Practice some nonsense speeches on random topics, the more ridiculous the better. It helps you develop good gestures, and other habits, without tying them in to your actual speech.

    The Lord of Hats on
  • chromdomchromdom Who? Where?Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Another thing that helps, on the compostion level, is to try and stick to short sentences, and use rhetorical questions. Short sentences give you a bit more pause to sort out your next thought, and they also stick in the head better than run-on sentences. Rhetorical questions are great for making sure that the audience is thinking along the line you want them to, and also stick out in the mind afterwards.

    I agree with the rhetorical questions point, but the short sentences idea I feel I have to speak up about.
    Short sentences can help you like Lord O' Hats says, but also provide you with more place to grind to a stop. When you grind to a stop and have a pregnant pause, then it can give birth to lots of little pauses. While you don't want run on sentences, avoid rough transitions and big jumps in topic. Write, and then speak, naturally, at your own pace and in sentences that you would use in conversation. This will flow naturally out of you, and make it easier for you to keep going.

    chromdom on
  • DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I find that unless you're performing something written by somebody else, it's more valuable to just have an idea of the points you want to hit in your speech, and how you want the speech to flow.

    I don't know anyone who memorizes their speeches. I certainly don't. Memorized speeches sound like exactly that - memorized speeches. It is nearly impossible to emote naturally, or even sound natural, while reciting something.

    The artificial restriction that you not bring notecards is sort of stupid - you don't want to write things down word-for-word, but a short outline of your main points (like a PowerPoint-style outline) can be very helpful to jog your memory. Either way, don't memorize the words, memorize the outline. Organize your thoughts, not your words (this may be difficult if you're giving a speech in a foreign language, of course).

    DrFrylock on
  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    DrFrylock wrote: »
    I find that unless you're performing something written by somebody else, it's more valuable to just have an idea of the points you want to hit in your speech, and how you want the speech to flow.
    I don't know anyone who memorizes their speeches. I certainly don't. Memorized speeches sound like exactly that - memorized speeches. It is nearly impossible to emote naturally, or even sound natural, while reciting something.

    The artificial restriction that you not bring notecards is sort of stupid - you don't want to write things down word-for-word, but a short outline of your main points (like a PowerPoint-style outline) can be very helpful to jog your memory. Either way, don't memorize the words, memorize the outline. Organize your thoughts, not your words (this may be difficult if you're giving a speech in a foreign language, of course).
    The point of the speech is about proper pronunciation of Chinese rather than the style of the speech. And at our current level we're about as competent at that as children so they're more concerned about us getting our tones and grammar structures right. Which isn't to say style won't count either, but it's not going to be as substantial as the "not sounding retarded in Chinese" category, and which is an understandable reason not to be using note cards.

    Quid on
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