Do it often. Do it whenever the opportunity presents itself. Get good at it. Why? It’s not your thing. You don’t like to be the center of attention. You get uncomfortable about having everyone look at you. Well too bad, do it anyway.
Write down what you’re going to say. Then have someone else read it. Then, read it to someone. Speak slowly, you’re always rushing, even when you think you’re not. Enunciate. Then go back with a red pen and make the changes. Then read it to someone else. Read it to a good friend, one who you share the true value of good friendship with- brutal, often devastating honesty. When he thinks it’s good and when you think it’s good, you’re ready.
When you’re up there, and you’re nervous, don’t think of people in their underwear or any of that nonsense. Focus on what you are saying. The words are important and how you deliver them is important. Read with a little passion and a little personality, don’t drone on. If you get to the point where you feel like you are, it was too long. Keep that in mind for next time.
But why? Why do it whenever you can? Simple- so that you’ll be ready when you Need to. Weddings and Funerals. No ducking the limelight then. And as important, you really, really need to not suck at public speaking on these two occasions. I once went to a wedding where the Best Man’s speech was 18 minutes long. A mini State of the Union address. And we were standing the whole time. Someone’s 80-something year old grandmother is standing there while this poor guy rambles on about god-knows-what.
I have a simple ideas on how I think speeches should go- Funny, relevant anecdote that involves you and whoever you are speaking about. It should be personal. Not a story you once heard from a guy you don’t talk to any more. Then, say what you’re up there to say. Keep it short, have a point, tell it like it’s a story you’re sharing around a beer and a campfire. People should connect with the speaker, I think that is the best way. End with a relevant quote- because somebody always said it better. Example:
‘A good song should make you wanna tap your feet and get with your girl. A great song should destroy cops and set fire to the suburbs. I’m only interested in writing great songs.’
Tom Morello, Rage Against The Machine
The Step- Speak Publicly, eloquently.
Have I Done It Yet- Yes in the sense that I have, no in that I’m yet to do it really well.