I was searching through a box of junk that has been in my wardrobe since I moved into this house 2 and a half years ago. At the bottom of this box I found several USB sticks and low and behold the treasure trove of crap that was on them, things like my old myspace photos and my UCAS personal statement. The better things on the flash drives were things like old college assignments, undergrad work, and some campaign stuff from my days as a parliamentary intern and when I worked In the Welsh Assembly, as well as a few bits and pieces from my candidature in the 2012 council elections. In with all the political stuff were quite a few drafts of speeches made by at least three different politicians, but also 4 or 5 speeches that I myself gave to various charitable organisations and think tanks, and reading them back I was actually struck with how good they were. They weren’t long enough to be boring and they weren’t short enough to make it seem like I was in a hurry. They used facts and figures, but weren’t overly reliant on them, and I think most importantly they were serious, but not too serious. If you don’t believe me that they were good, you’ll get the opportunity to judge for yourself, because when I’m looking for filler blog posts you can bet that’s what I’m going to be using.
It made me remember something one of my college lecturers said about putting together a presentation, That there are six golden rules to writing a good presentation. And they are:
- Know what you want to say and say it: Work out what it is that you want to say to your audience, and then work out how to say it. most importantly be to the point, don’t ramble, add some anecdotes by all means, but going off on tangents is not something you should do.
- stick to the time limit, but don’t rush: The worst thing to do is make an audience think you don’t want to be there, and it really looks like you don’t want to be there if you rush and blurt out your speech. I know (in theory at least) that speaking in front of an audience can be daunting, and by taking your time this will help, the general rule of thumb for reading a scripted speech is that 1 typed page of A4 should be equal to about one minuet of speech time, if you pace it right.
- Use facts and figures, but don’t overdo it: Numbers are boring, and, somewhat ironically, statistics show that most people don’t believe, or are at least dubious about, figures they hear in speeches.
- Know your audience: Knowing who you’re speaking to is helpful, a best man speech at a wedding, probably shouldn’t make mention of the grooms proclivity for intimate acts with farm animals if the grooms overly religious, elderly grandmother is present. Making jokes to a hostile audience is a big no, you’ll probably be able to judge, but things like in jokes, even amongst friends should be cut out.
- Don’t use jargon: It’s a simple one, just assume that everyone you’re talking to has only the most fleeting of understanding of what it is you are talking about. I remember going to an economics lecture once and the lecturer, was actually a world renowned doctor of economics with doctorates from Harvard, The LSE and Cambridge, and I know he was an absolute expert in his field, but he didn’t seem to know that his students weren’t, on day two of the course, I didn’t know what the libor rate or the London Inter-bank Bid Rate was, and I’m fleeting sure now. But my point is that jargon didn’t help me to understand and it only served to complicate matters as I was busy trying to figure out the jargon, rather than what was being said, and that really effected my grade.
- Have fun: Unless you’re a politician chances are, you’re going to be giving your speech to family, friends or colleagues, you don’t have to be overly formal, even speeches in front of sold out conference halls and arenas should have a relaxed feel, speak as if you are talking to friends or colleagues or family, focus on one person in the audience and talk to them, just have a conversation, even if you are nervous, enjoy your time in the limelight, enjoy being the centre of attention, enjoy having all eyes on you, and just enjoy yourself.