You might be the CEO who has had the benefit of a professional speechwriter to help you deliver the results at the AGM, or maybe you're the MC at a friend’s wedding, preparing to give the toast, then you see all of those faces in the crowd and you freeze. No matter the audience or the circumstances, being the centre of attention can be a truly daunting experience.
Industry Moves asked one of Australia’s most experienced actors, Andrew Tighe, for a few helpful tips to ensure that your all-important speech is memorable for all the right reasons.
“To inspire is much stronger than to tell." - Andrew Tighe
Breathing is the single most important technical aspect of successful presentation. It is also the first thing to go under the pressure of public speaking. Not only does proper breathing allow the brain to function efficiently under stress, it also influences the “colour” of our voices. Lack of oxygen in our systems leads to mental blocks and a thin voice lacking in authority.
Smiling has a double benefit in successful presentation. Superficially, it gives the impression of ease and confidence. We appear to be happy to be speaking in public and it relaxes our audience (who are often just as nervous as we are). More importantly, it allows the structure of the mouth to function efficiently. By smiling, the vocal chords are given more room to operate and the interior cavity of our mouths is enlarged, allowing a richer sound to be produced.
Play an “Action"
An “action” is simply a reason to be giving a speech. Are we “welcoming”? Are we “inspiring”? Are we “informing”? Playing an action can invigorate a presentation by giving it purpose. Speeches without apparent purpose can be dull. Of course, a speech may contain many different actions which change as the speech develops, but make sure you are always playing something, and make it a strong action. “To inspire” is much stronger than “to tell”.
Drive the energy to the end of the line
Speeches are like music. The better they flow, the more “listenable” they are. If we break the energy of the line in the middle of a sentence, the listener is asked to work harder than necessary. If the energy is maintained to the end of the sentence, the listener is going to find it easier to stay involved. This also provides the speech with buoyancy. Observe the punctuation of the line. If there is no comma, keep going. Breathing correctly will help. See tip No.1
Speak in your own voice
It’s very important not to take another persona when delivering a speech. Your personality is your greatest asset in successful public speaking. With practice, the tips above will provide a technical expertise that is designed to release your talent. All technique is simply a way to create a structure through which your natural ability can shine. Be aware when working on a speech that we are not trying to hide behind technique, rather we are using technique as a spring board to send us soaring to success.
Andrew is one of Australia's most experienced actors, with a career in theatre and television spanning 30 years. He has appeared on popular Australian television shows as well as theatre productions and has also directed for the Sydney Theatre Co, Belvoir St and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Andrew uses theatrical technique to enable successful public speaking in the corporate world and is available for individual or group corporate speech training sessions: firstname.lastname@example.org or 61 423 119 788.