The Knack How to make a speech. By Hugo Summerson

First of all, be prepared. Research your audience in depth. Why are they there and what do they expect to hear from you? Then tailor your speech to that particular audience. Know your purpose. Why have you been invited to give a speech, what are you trying to do? If there are several speakers, be absolutely certain that you're not speaking on the same subject as any of them. Get material from as many sources as you can: friends, colleagues, books, magazines, the Internet. Decide on the points you want to make and work your material into a logical structure. Tell the audience what you're going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you've told them. Your opening words should be guaranteed to grab the audience's attention. Make your points clearly and succinctly, in a logical order. Remember that a good speech is heavily weighted toward example and illustration. You've got to help your audience visualise what you're saying. The conclusion should be strong, to hammer home your message so the audience remembers both it and you. Use your body language, it will help you emphasise the points you are making. If you're nervous, let the adrenalin help you, that's what it is there for. The knowledge that you've spent hours preparing will give you confidence. Put yourself in the right frame of mind and say to yourself: I'm looking forward to this, I'm going to give this speech and nothing is going to stop me from getting my message across. Fiona McClymont

Hugo Summerson is the principal of Speaker Skills Training, telephone: 0171-359 7419