Chapter 3: Developing Compelling Presentations

Tips for Researching for Your Speech:

Be Aware of Time Limitations

We've already discussed the importance of knowing how much time you have available to deliver your speech. But, how do you ensure that the speech you have in mind will fit into that timeframe? You practice it. With the aid of a tape recorder, replay yourself giving the speech. Don't just listen for content but assess your delivery too. Will you be able to complete the speech in the time you've been allotted? Do you feel it contains the important elements it needs to serve the audience? Is it interesting? Honestly, think about whether you would be interested listening to the speech yourself. If not, go back to the drawing board.

The time factor isn't just about how long you're going to speak overall, but how much time you plan to spend on each point. That's why a comprehensive outline is such a helpful tool. If done properly, you can see how many supporting factors you have for each of your main points. Then you can literally break your speech out into minutes, or seconds if necessary. At the very least, you want to make sure that the audience has an opportunity to hear everything you planned to say and that you don't overshoot when you make that happen.

As you develop your speech, use only as much time as you need to use to effectively deliver the information. At the same time, you don't want to be too brief because your audience will feel cheated or won't have enough details to understand your message. You want to stop talking just before your audience begins to squirm, that's probably around the 20 minute mark. If you need to run longer, incorporate things to keep the talk interesting and upbeat. Remember your presentation time will be extended if you take questions at the end.

Also consider the rate at which you speak when you practice your speech. Talking too slow or too fast could impact how receptive your audience is to your message. If you talk too fast, you don't allow your audience to process what you're saying and you may fail to effectively communicate to them. At the same time, you don't want to speak too slowly because they'll begin to lose interest. The best speakers alter the pace of their delivery. You can slow down to emphasize a certain point or pause before or after a particular sentence then pick up the pace. Just remember that the pace of your speech should reinforce your message not detract from it.

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