Well my competition speech didn’t work out as I would have liked… In placing second I learnt a valuable lesson that I can apply to all my future speeches. To have a speech that stands out you need to ensure that the following three areas are considered:
On competition night the setting wasn’t ideal. The room where we were competing had air conditioning with only two settings; “freezing” or “off”. When we turned it off the room became very stuffy, but when the air was turned back on, everyone in the room began to shiver. Neither environment is ideal for an audience to enjoy the speech that’s being presented to them. Especially when the audience is full of contest judges!! But, all contestants endured the same setting – so this wasn’t the source of the lesson I learnt…
In preparing for the competition I spent plenty of time writing my speech, soliciting feedback from friends, before adjusting and rewriting my speech. So, I’m reasonably happy with the speech in its written form. That’s not to say it was perfect – but at some point you have to stop polishing the words you have written and start thinking about the delivery.
It was in the delivery that I learnt my lesson. On the night I felt my delivery of the speech was a little flat. After reviewing the video of my delivery I noticed that the gestures I used were not as expressive as the words I spoke – A mismatch that will make any audience question the genuineness of the speaker and his or her intent. In hindsight I should have started thinking about my delivery earlier than I did to ensure that it was not only the words that were polished but also the gestures that go with them!
As you prepare your next speech remember that a great speech is not just the words you say, but also how you deliver them (and if everyone in the room is comfortable – even better!).