Speaking Tips

Whether you’re new to giving speeches or are a seasoned Toastmaster, these how-to articles will help you hone your skills. Get quick and easy tips for how to prepare and present an award, use visual aids and props, incorporate body language into your presentations, and more. With time and practice, you’re sure to see improvement in your ability to communicate and an increase in your confidence as well.

Accepting Awards

Whether you’re accepting an Oscar or community recognition, Toastmasters International offers these proven tips for delivering a powerful acceptance speech for any type of award:

  • Show your personality. Your acceptance speech should come from the heart.
  • Be gracious. Acknowledge the good work done by your competitors and thank the organization that selected you for the award.
  • Show excitement. You don’t have to climb over chairs or even cry, but the audience should recognize that you’re happy to have won the award.
  • Be modest. Your acceptance speech should be heartfelt but not self-congratulatory.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Rehearse with a timer, memorize key people to thank and allow time for the unexpected.

Learn more about acceptance speeches by exploring the Toastmasters International Special Occasion Speeches handbook.

Delivering Eulogies

Delivering a eulogy at a funeral or memorial service can be difficult. A speaker is challenged by dealing with their own grief while communicating in an effective and heartfelt way. Here are some tips to help deliver a eulogy:

  • Write out a eulogy in detail and practice delivering it.
  • Limit a eulogy to two or three main points. A eulogy should not be the chronology of a life but a tribute to it.
  • Focus on the eulogized person’s life and times through meaningful stories, anecdotes and quotes.
  • Make a eulogy inspiring. Help the audience deal with mortality and help them improve their outlook.
  • Use appropriate mannerisms and gestures when delivering a eulogy. The atmosphere of a memorial service does not lend itself to overly dramatic gestures or special effects.

Delivering Technical Briefings

A technical briefing is a speech that conveys technical information to a specific audience, usually in a workplace.

Technical briefings should be presented in a way that allows an audience to understand and apply critical information. Technical briefings can range from an engineer briefing a group of managers on a current project, to a retail supervisor explaining a new company policy to the store employees. Follow the steps below to ensure your technical briefings are as effective as they can be:

  • Know your audience. Avoid using too much industry jargon or material that is too technical for your colleagues to easily understand.
  • State the purpose of the technical briefing in one or two sentences and use this summary as the focal point for the entire presentation.
  • Arrange the material into an outline containing an introduction, main points and a conclusion.
  • Summarize the main points of the technical briefing during the conclusion.

Giving Sales Pitches

A sales pitch or proposal seeks to persuade. The objective of the presentation is to sell a product, concept or idea. The ability to present sales pitches and proposals effectively can open the door to professional opportunities.

To organize ideas into an effective sales pitch or proposal, use the “inverted pyramid” approach, which gives an audience the most important information in the first few sentences (how much money might be saved, how lives might be improved, etc.). Support claims with logic and evidence, and end every sales pitch or proposal with a call to action. If an audience agrees with the initial message or point, the supporting material that follows will reinforce that agreement. If an audience disagrees, logic and evidence may win them over.

Use high-quality yet simple visual aids, such as charts or slides, to help clarify any sales pitch or proposal. Make sure the visual aids can be seen by every person in the audience, and limit each chart or slide to a single main point.

Offer a question-and-answer period following a sales pitch or proposal, which can supply you with valuable feedback about the effectiveness of the pitch. It also gives an audience the opportunity to further clarify specific points or data that was presented. Below are a few ways to effectively answer questions from an audience:

  • Anticipate possible questions by rehearsing with colleagues or friends.
  • Provide answers that support the sales pitch or proposal.
  • Disarm loaded questions (those based on false premises or irrelevant assumptions) by being polite and asking the questioner to further explain his or her question.
  • Divide complicated questions into several parts before answering them.

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