Delivering a speech: valuable tips

Not everyone finds it easy to give a speech in front of a group of people. We will show you how you can best prepare for this and how you can inspire your listeners with simple tricks of the trade.

What matters in a speech

Studies have shown that giving a speech to ca. 50 percent through body language (nonverbal), approx. 40 percent through the voice (paraverbal) and only ca. 10 percent impact on the audience through the words spoken (verbally).

Therefore, as strange as it may sound, the rhetoric of a speech is often much more important than the actual content.

Delivering a speech: valuable tips 2

Proper preparation is very important / Photo: Vasily Merkushev /

How to prepare properly

First of all, you should be clear about what kind of speech you are preparing for. On the one hand, there is the occasion speech, on the other hand the information speech and the opinion, argumentation or persuasion speech. Next, you should know how you want to structure your speech. There are two ways to do this: Either you formulate your speech beforehand or you speak freely and only with the help of keywords.

If you choose to do the latter, cue sheets, mind maps, slides, flip charts, etc. can be used. be of great help. The advantage of this type of speech is that you are not simply reading from a piece of paper and your listeners therefore get the impression that you have prepared well.

It all comes down to proper planning

For planning the content of a speech, the so-called "mindmapping method" is best. To do this, proceed as follows: Write the occasion of your speech in the middle of a sheet of paper. Next, write down everything you can think of on the topic. Write these keywords along lines, starting from your occasion word. This will give you an overview of the possible contents of your speech. You can circle the most important ones at the end and delete superfluous topics.

The proper outline in an informational speech

When building an informative speech resemble the structure of an essay. Thus, it begins with an introduction, which is followed by the main part and then the final part. So, at the beginning, you should briefly convey to your audience what information they can expect during the speech. These facts are then explained in detail in the main part and summarized once again for the audience in the concluding part.

How to make the beginning interesting and the end crisp

It is the opening of a speech that determines whether the audience continues to listen to you with interest or mentally says goodbye. This is a good way to For the introduction, for example, anecdotes. As in a play, you should dramatize your speech. This is how everything should build toward a grand finale and thus stay in the audience’s mind.

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With the right introduction you put the audience in the right mood / Photo: nd3000 /

The introduction

There are numerous options for a speaker to begin his speech. Appropriate introductions provide opportunities to put the audience in a certain mood in advance. We will show you which forms have proven successful in practice.

a) The interactive introduction

You can involve your audience with a spontaneous poll. Example: "Which of you arrived today by train?"

b) The stimulating start

Use rhetorical questions to encourage your audience to join in.

Example: "What do you think, how can a speaker ensure that his audience listens to him?"

c) The message-based introduction

You start your speech with a recent study or industry news that fits the topic.
Example: "You read it today: The economy is slowing down…"

d) The surprising introduction

You distort a message and say the exact opposite. Example: "Statistics show: In ten years, Germany will be an old people’s home."

e) The provocative introduction

Take your core topic to the extreme. Even if this introduction is daring, it creates attention.
Example: "If you don’t network, you won’t find a job"."

f) The comparative introduction

Start your introduction with a humorous comparison. Example: "Speeches are like traffic jams: you’d like to cut corners, but you can’t get out of it."

g) The personal introduction

Tell an anecdote from your life.
Example: "You won’t believe what just happened to me at the hotel…."

h) The humorous introduction

Start your speech with a joke that fits the topic. Example: "You can talk about anything, but not about half an hour."

Another tip on the side:

Never try to speak against a chattering crowd. Instead, it is better to wait until everyone is quiet.

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stay calm and do not forget to breathe / Photo: izkes /

Do not forget to breathe properly

So that you don’t get out of breath or your voice rolls over with excitement when you speak, you should use a certain breathing technique called "voice jogging". You should apply these before starting your speech.

In doing so, count to 15 or recite the days of the week, for example. Speak in a pitch that is comfortable for you, with highs and lows, and pause briefly after each word. In summary: Breathe in, speak after exhaling, and then pause.

Arch phrases: This is how you exude confidence and dynamism during your speech

In so-called "arch sentences," raise your voice as the sentence progresses and lower it at the end of the sentence. This is followed by a short pause, as in "voice jogging".

This technique is often used by speakers and presenters, as the raising of the voice fills what is said with dynamism as well as liveliness, and the subsequent lowering signals certainty. Pause at the end of the sentence to support the impact of what is being said.

How to use your voice correctly

Adjust your voice pitch and volume to your respective statements. This will make your speech more memorable to the audience. This will also prevent the audience from becoming monotonous or bored. Amazing facts or events come across even better if the speaker himself sounds surprised.

The be-all and end-all: sovereignty

Even though you may feel uncomfortable or not even feel like giving a speech: Be confident. If people notice your displeasure, it can easily be transferred to the audience.

Remain authentic

Whether a speech inspires the audience and is crowned with success is often dependent on how likeable the speaker appears to the audience. Laugh, be angry, show dismay – above all, stay yourself and don’t pretend.

Anything else will look artificial and the listeners will keep their distance. Also, emotions are better remembered and make your speech believable.

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Take your listeners on a journey of thought / Photo: Robert Kneschke /

Take your listeners on a journey of thought

As a speaker, you are a guide through your thoughts for your audience. It is not always easy to present this speech to an audience in a comprehensible way.

Consider beforehand what the occasion of the speech is, i.e. what and when you want to achieve with it. Only then should you plan the content and the sequence of events.

Emphasize commonalities

In order for your speech to be successful, you should know your audience and their relationships with each other. For example, if it is people you work with on a daily basis, you can refer to common experiences during the speech.

On the other hand, if you see your audience only once a year, there is an opportunity to relate to the industry they all belong to.

Communicate with your audience

As a speaker, you should always make sure to stay in contact with your audience. You can make this possible by making eye contact or by asking your audience rhetorical questions at appropriate intervals, such as "Do you know the following situation…" or "Do you also feel that…"?.

You can also appeal to your audience by integrating examples from their world of experience as well as a good dash of humor and self-irony into your speech.

If you are very nervous, it is best to find a few friendly faces in the audience that you can look at more often for eye contact. However, do not stare at individual people for too long, as this could quickly come across as unfriendly or even threatening.

Keep it short and to the point – stay on topic

How long a speech should be depends primarily on its occasion. For example, if it is a speech for a Christmas party, it should not be longer than ten to fifteen minutes. In general, a speech should contain no more than three key messages.

For example: Jobs are safe. Our company is looking forward to a bright future. And: We owe the fact that our company is doing so well to the efforts of all our employees.

Brevity is the spice of life

Avoid nested sentences in your speech at all costs. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting tangled up, nervous and constantly getting lost. It is therefore better to use the shortest possible sentences.

Speak from the present

As far as possible, avoid phrases that are not in the present tense, for example: "Our planning envisages…". Better to say, "We plan to…" Also, using substantive verbs such as "reorientation" or "implementation" can make statements simpler and easier to understand.

Use body language

In a speech, your body language is just as important as the content you speak. You can emphasize words with gestures and facial expressions and thus give your speech a very special touch. Spoken words get more expressiveness and remain better in the memory of your listeners.

But don’t put yourself under pressure in this respect, because in order for your gestures to be authentic, you should first and foremost feel comfortable doing them.

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Smiling has a positive effect on the speech / Photo: /

Smile is encouraged

Even if you are nervous during your speech and you may not feel like it: smile. Studies show that speakers who smile more often and longer have a more intelligent effect on their audience than those with permanently serious faces.

Practice makes perfect

Just by practicing a speech out loud, you will become more confident and gain routine. Above all, you should know the introduction, the end as well as the transitions by heart, so to speak. It is also advisable to practice the speech in front of a small audience of up to four people.

Try to replace sounds like "ah" and "ohm" as well as filler words like "also", "eben" and "halt" with a short silence.

Another tip on the side:

Stop the time while practicing. How to determine afterwards whether your speech may be too long or even too short.

And what to do in case of a breakdown?

Often a breakdown is perceived by the speaker as more dramatic than it is received by the listener. If the mistake turns out to be more drastic, there is no harm in staying calm and owning up to the glitch. This comes across as sympathetic and shows your human side, because as the saying goes, "Nobody is perfect".

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