Tips on Oral Presentations for English Years 9-12

 JFK Giving Speech

A few tips on writing your speech:

  • Have a CAPTIVATING introduction sentence; use a short, clear and powerful sentence. You can even ask a rhetorical question of your audience to make them think right at the start.
  • RELATE to your audience so that it keeps them interested so they actually WANT to listen.
  • If you are taking on a persona, firstly study and UNDERSTAND your character. (A persona is how you present your speech, ie. in a friendly voice, a business type strictly formal speech or using lots of colloquial phrases).
  • Don’t forget your persuasive techniques. Use repetition and rhetorical questions, emotive language and inclusive language.
  • Remember that you are writing a SPEECH, not an essay. Instill your oral with emotion, varied tone and sentence lengths.

A few tips on your performance:

Memorise your speech

Always remember that practice makes perfect. Practice as much as possible; in front of anyone and everyone including yourself (use a mirror). Keep practicing until you can recite it.

As for cue cards, use dot points. Don’t just copy and paste whole sentences onto cue cards or else you’ll rely on them too much. Not to mention that it’ll be hard finding out where you are in the middle of your speech. Use “trigger words” so that if you forget your next point, you have something there.

Use your Powerpoint presentation to best advantage. Keep the images relevant to your speech. Have the images not too “busy” so that the audience are looking attentively at the screen and forget to listen to your speech. Make sure the presentation is on mouse click to the next slide or timed so you don’t have to fiddle around with the computer, but remember to keep talking.

But most importantly, if you mess up, keep going. Even if you screw up a word or suddenly forget your next point, just take a breath, correct yourself, and keep going. Do not giggle. If your friends make you laugh, don’t look at them.

Control your voice

Do not be monotone. Give it some energy; be pumped but not “I-just-downed-5-cans-of-Red Bull” pumped. Give it as much energy as it is appropriate for your speech. As you transition through various intense emotions such as anger, happiness and shock, your performance should reflect it. This is achieved in both your tone and your body language (moving around, not jumping around as that will distract from what you are trying to say).

Speak as if you believe in your contention – with passion. If you sound confident, then your audience will think, ‘wow, they sure know what they’re talking about’. Remember, confidence is the key.

Don’t rush through your speech and speak at a million kilometers an hour – or even worse; skipping half of your speech because you just want to get the hell out of there. Also, speak so that the teacher can actually hear you. More likely than not, they’ll be sitting somewhere near the back of the room. Don’t be “too quiet” master the art/power of projecting your voice. It actually does make a huge difference.

Be aware of your actions

Don’t just stand like a statue in one spot. Think about real life – do you know anyone that stands completely and utterly still when talking to you? Make sure you look around the room; you’re addressing everyone, not just one person. Don’t stare at your teacher; it freaks them out. You don’t even have to look at a specific place. Start off looking at the back wall… then as you go through the speech, naturally turn from one back corner of the room to the other. Also, try not to look down because it will make you mumble and be hard to understand or hear. Don’t try to look at your cue cards while they’re right up next to your body. Move it out when you need to have a GLANCE at them then go back to the audience.

Always make sure that you face the audience.

Use some natural hand gestures they don’t hurt either!

Take some long, deep breaths before you go on and tell yourself that you can do it!