Delivering a good speech

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Mosidinyane Moleko chose an unusual angle and topic - What Makes Me Mad - for the 2008 Anglo American and Sowetan Young Communicators Awards.

Also, as part of her introduction, she employed a pleasant, yet cocky approach: "I am here to ask you: 'What makes you mad?, What flicks your switch and sets you off?'" Mosidinyane's presentation was also well-structured, vibrant and compelling.

High school pupils in Grades 11 and 12 will discover from the handbooks that will be distributed during the workshops leading up to the provincial eliminations, starting in March, that if your content is excellent but your delivery is poor, this will count against you.

Contestants in the past have lost out - they might have had a great speech on paper, but it failed on delivery.

No matter how well-structured a speech may be, you need to have enthusiasm and a passion that will impress the audience.

It is not so much what you have to say (although this is very important) but how you say it.

You also need to:

l Ensure that the meaning of your speech is absolutely clear.

l Avoid vague, confusing or ambiguous statements.

l Keep your speech short and simple.

l And when necessary, illustrate your meaning by telling a story, sharing an experience or showing a picture.

In terms of expressing yourself, please remember that:

l The audience will switch off if they cannot hear what you are saying.

l A whisper, well used, is as effective as a shout.

l Avoid a dull or boring tone.

l Modulate your speaking tempo for emphasis and variety.

l And, an enjoyable voice, well used, adds to the effect of your message.

Good public speakers are also self-confident, so remember that speakers are not only heard, they are also seen, meaning that:

l Your aim should be to enhance your speech by your appearance, gestures and animation.

l You could also employ animation.

It involves facial expressions, body movements and posture.

l Gestures should appear natural, complementing the spoken word - you do not have to work up a sweat!