Preparing a speech for a business event or a forthcoming wedding?
Worried about standing up in front of an expectant audience? Scared of a heckle or a nasty quip?
It’s at times like this we need to draw breath and create some perspective.
Let’s just feel relieved that we’re not George Osborne delivering a speech of the magnitude of the budget. Or, even worse, Ed Miliband, having to reply without any time to prepare, and with huge swathes of the country already sniggering about your public speaking ability.
Even now, twitter feeds abound with the news that health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, could hardly keep his eyes open whilst waiting for the more exciting bits. And it wasn’t even a dull budget. As for the reaction to the Leader of the Opposition’s speech, boredom would have been preferable to much of the criticism he received.
Now, imagine that was the reaction to your best man speech!
The very good news is that your speech making abilities will never be subject to the intense scrutiny that George Osborne is experiencing this week.
That’s worth remembering.
The other thing worth remembering by anyone delivering a social or business speech – is that your audience wants you to be a success. We may see a lot of parliamentary speeches, but parliamentarians are not a typical audience. Heckling is effectively part of their job description!
Understanding that is a key part of delivering any successful speech. Most audiences (unless you find yourself being interviewed by the serious fraud office) are onside and willing the speech maker to be as poignant, moving and entertaining as they can be.
It’s very rare to be up in front of an entirely hostile audience (although Mr Osborne’s experience at the Olympic Games is another exception to the rule!).
In a setting where the audience is made up of colleagues, friends or family, gathered for an event or celebration: for the speaker about to make their tentative way to the microphone, the crowd will be friendly, sympathetic and supportive. They want you to succeed.
If you remember that, and you have taken the time to prepare a thoughtful, balanced speech, you’ll be in an infinitely stronger position to stand up and start speaking.
And if the thought of a heckle really does turn your knees to jelly, and you don’t really fancy the press listening to your words whilst analysing your haircut, then we have one very important piece of advice:
Don’t go into politics!