“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words. “
We will all be called to give a speech at some occasion in our life. This can be a best persons speech at a wedding, a eulogy at a funeral of a loved one, a toast at a party or any other occasion where we need to make a speech. They have one thing in common, the thought of giving a special occasion speech can be the “stuff of nightmares” for most people. Even accomplished speakers, can be challenged by the idea of a special occasion speech where friends and family can often be present.
Late last year I had to give such a speech at a family celebration. While I had learnt many things about giving speeches in my years in Toastmasters I was still filled with anxiety. The speech went well and I was happy with the result. However as I am in a period of my life where I have to give more special occasions speeches, I am now reflecting on what Toastmasters has taught me about giving special occasion speeches.
1. Be Positive With Your Special Occasion Speech
The very nature of a special occasion speech is that it is celebrating an occasion where typically you are marking an achievement, milestone or celebrating an event. This is a time for the positive and highlighting the successes, not dwelling unnecessarily on the negatives. Remember your audience wants to go home, feeling good about the experience. They can only achieve this if you give a positive, uplifting speech.
2. Keep To The Point
The easiest way to loose and bore your audience is by not sticking to your point. How many hours in your life have been wasted listening to an ill-conceived speech that leaves you scratching your head in frustration? You find yourself asking yourself two questions what were they trying to say? And why did they not just stop speaking?
The key to a successful speech is to have a point and stick to that point. Build your speech structure around introducing your point, explaining and finally concluding your point. The speech structure should be simple and effective and built around the point you are trying to make. Value your audience’s time and always finish within your allocated time.
3. Speak From The Heart
Passion sells and when giving a speech you are always selling an idea. Your speech is showing your audience your view of an event or persons achievements that you want your audience to embrace. You need to show your audience by your speech that this is a subject you care about and you truly value the achievement, event or milestone they are all there to celebrate.
4. Acknowledge The Persons Achievements
It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many special occasion speeches fail to fully acknowledge the persons achievements. They think the audience knows about them already, so they quickly gloss over them. Never make this assumption and always mention the main achievements that have contributed to this individuals or groups success. Remember people have busy, complicated lives and will need to be reminded of why they are at a particular celebration.
5. Be Courteous
Always be courteous and respectful of the person or group you are honoring and on the occasion of an award the awarding body. This respect reflects well on all concerned and adds dignity to the occasion.
Practice Your Special Occasion Speech
It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.
The 5 tips I have given will help when preparing a special occasion speech, however you also need to practice your speech. Practicing delivering a speech gives even the most accomplished speakers confidence when they go to give a speech. The better you are at making your speech the more relaxed and confidence you feel when the day comes to give the speech.