Tips in Delivering a Contest-Worthy Speech

Tips, eh? As I fumbled with my pen, trying my hardest to concentrate on writing what seems like my first article in ages, I am in a dilemma if I am “worthy” enough of giving tips for delivering contest-worthy speeches. Yes, I may have my fair share of joining speech contests (most of them during my high school days) and I have completed my CC norm just recently, but somehow still I felt that those don’t really equate much to “worthy” enough experiences.

So what I’d like to do is to impart with you how I prepare every time I deliver what I could say a contest-worthy speech. With the experiences that I’ve had and with the newly acquired knowledge I’ve gathered when I become a member of FDIP Toastmasters, I’ve developed this simple acronym that I hope would be helpful for aspiring speakers including myself.

Summon your passion.

Nothing beats delivering a speech that speaks your heart. There are numerous topics under the sun to choose from, but choose a topic that you know very well – something close to your heart –  a hobby, an experience, a dream, a plan – anything that you can consider a part of you that you can share to others..If a certain topic is within your agenda, it would be very easy to deliver it with fervor. Remember that your audience can sense your enthusiasm and excitement in your tone and in your body language. They could feel how engrossed you are to your topic thus holding them to your attention.

Practice and Presence.

Old school rules. If you want to make an impact, command your presence on the stage. How? Practice your stint, of course! Practice, practice, practice. Yes, you get that advise all the time. But tiring as it is, I believe it’s the only way that you can exude confidence and reflect a strong stage presence in delivering your speech. Make sure that you practice well – your hand gestures, your facial expressions, your body movements and your space utilization. If necessary, practice in front of a mirror, to a sample crowd or to a mentor if you have one. While it’s true that Practice makes Perfect, it’s more effective to say that “Perfect” Practice makes it really Perfect.

Engage your audience.

This is just para-phrasing the rule of “maintaining eye contact”. It is useless if you do not maintain eye contact with your audience even if you are passionate to your subject and confident on stage. It will render you impassive and will make the audience unresponsive. You do not just speak your heart and make a point, you need to make sure that the audience can connect with what you are trying to say. Don’t just talk it out but communicate and let them absorb your message. By maintaining eye contact, you let them know you’re sincere and believe it or not, they could feel it.

Aim to Please.

I know some of you might be familiar with this phrase. But in the public speaking sense, it’s not exactly about delivering a speech in order to satisfy your audience. If you make that your objective, you will fail. Your audience vary from one to the other and you may never be able to please all of them. Instead, your goal should be to deliver your speech as such that at the end of your performance, you know you can give yourself a pat on the back, pleased with what you’ve done. If you aim to be pleased with your performance, chances are you will channel that satisfaction to your audience.

Keep your cool.

When in front of a crowd, panic makes you crack. It will get your confidence go a long way down the drain. If you’re nervous and fidgety, you’ll distract your audience and will soon lose their attention. Worse, your scattered wits will make you forget everything! Before you deliver, do some breathing exercises. I don’t know if it works for everyone, but it does for me. Of course, make sure that you’ve practice well, otherwise forget about even the breathing exercises. It will also take a lot of getting used to. Don’t freak out if you got nervous on your first time. Do it several times more and you’ll get the hang of it.

There you go – be passionate, get acquainted with the new “Perfect Practice makes Perfect” quote, get your audience involved, develop a sense of self-satisfaction and don’t fret. SPEAK out and just be your usual honest self. At the end of the day, it all boils down to being “you” communicating ardently to a group of interested listeners. It’s all about how they will remember you and your performance even if you did not won. Bear in mind that leaving an impression –  a good ol’ lasting impression –  is equally important as winning the contest.But contest or no contest, always make it to a point to deliver a speech “worthy” of time, effort, respect and recognition.