10 things to avoid in a speech

Because public speaking is, by definition, a ‘live’ event, mistakes are inevitable.  As a speech writer, I am often approached by people who have had a bad public speaking experience in the past, and with them in mind, here are  things to avoid in a speech to ensure that you minimise your chances of something equally horrible happening to you!

  1. Drinking too much beforehand
  2. Forgetting that you only have two hands.  This means that it isn’t easy to hold your speech in one hand, your microphone in another, and still have a spare hand to click through any accompanying slides
  3. Typing your speech in a font that’s too small to read at arms length
  4. Typing your speech in a colour that’s too light to read in a dimly lit room
  5. Not numbering your cards / pages and so panic ensues when you drop them on the floor as you are about to start speaking
  6. Not taking a glass of wine with you to make a toast at the end of the speech
  7. Speaking so quickly that no one can keep up with the points you’re making
  8. Speaking so quietly that no one can hear you
  9. Staring down at your speech and forgetting that you should actually be addressing your audience
  10. Looking glum throughout. Unless you are Jack Dee, this tends to be a real turn off.

giving a bad speech

This list isn’t meant to scare you, and nor is it comprehensive.  But it is amazing how the silliest things can ruin the most beautifully written speech.  As ever, preparation is key.  If you know your content, have checked out the venue, and have practised out loud, then your odds are good.

Please let me know if I can help with any aspect of this.

Lawrence

2 Comments

  1. Lawrence Bernstein
    Mar 12, 2015 at 10:30

    Hi Brynne,
    It largely depends on the type of speech you’re giving, but the general advice would be to avoid it. If, for example, it’s a business pitch about a new product, you’ll certainly need to name the thing at some point, but to begin by saying “Hi, I’m Brynne, and my speech is about windows” lacks impact.
    Meanwhile, if it’s a wedding speech, there’s no need to say “Hi, I’m Brynne, and my speech is about the happy couple” because everyone will know that already. Equally, if you start by saying “my speech is about how they first met”, though it may be an interesting story, you don’t give yourself much room to make an interesting speech.
    So – where possible, best avoided. Of course if you’re not sure and you have a speech already, we’d be delighted to take a look at it!

  2. Brynne
    Mar 01, 2015 at 20:20

    Nice list but should I avoid (when writing) saying “my speech is about…..” Cuz I get confused. Some people tell oh it’s ok you can do that, then others tell my no don’t im confused help

    -Confused and tired

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