While you may be giving presentations in your business or your public speaking career, there are times in which you may be called upon to give an actual speech and not a presentation. One of the differences between the speech and the presentation is that the former should be read and the latter should be spoken.
So how do you read a speech effectively without sounding like you are reading?
The first thing you must do upon completion of your speech is to practice it out loud. This means going over it often enough so that you can read it well without mistakes. What this really means is that you must know your speech inside and out.
While I do not advocate memorization, I do urge you to memorize your opening 2 or 3 sentences. Without a doubt, the opening for any speech or presentation is the most difficult aspect of presenting. Getting through your opening smoothly, flawlessly, and without hesitation will bolster your confidence and make the rest of your delivery easier.
Why do I recommend not memorizing the rest of your speech? There are two reasons:
1. The likelihood of forgetting and thus having difficulty remembering where you were; and,
2. The chance of sounding rote or memorized, much like those callers who interrupt our dinner to try to sell us something.
If you practice your speech diligently and concentrate on your words, actually thinking about what you are saying, you will find it much easier to acknowledge your audience throughout your delivery. When you look up, make eye contact with your listeners. Of course, you can’t acknowledge everyone at one time, but you can at least look in one direction. Go back to your script and then look up again as you continue to ‘speak,’ this time focusing on a different section of the group.
Part of the secret of delivering a speech without sounding like you are reading is to have your attention more on your audience and less on your material. Should your eyes be glued to your script, however, you will not be able to make eye contact and that is a dead giveaway that you are reading to them. Remember, delivering a speech means public speaking, not public reading. (If you want to read to a group, join a book club at a library.)
Use variety in your voice when you speak and allow your facial expression and body language to further enhance your delivery. In doing so, you will be much more interesting to listen to.
If you can employ the above techniques, you will sound like you are talking to your listeners and not at them.
Bottom line? Treat your audience as if you were having a conversation in your living room and they will not be aware that you are reading to them.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. To see how voice training can improve your life, both professionally and personally, visit Voice Dynamic