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Presenting a Specialist Speech

Do you have a specialist speech coming up?

Rostrum WA – Perth Public speaking and communication training experts present some handy tips to get you started.


Introducing a speaker

Although not the most difficult of speaking tasks, introducing a speaker still requires a certain amount of skill. You will want to introduce the speaker with some background about him as well as information relevant to the topic of his speech. If the speaker is well known, do some research online to find interesting information that the audience would like to know. If the speaker is not well known, contact him directly to obtain some background.

Don’t make the mistake of reading the speaker’s biography as you received it in the mail. Select highlights of the speaker’s career that relate to the audience’s interests and are relevant to the speech. Keep it brief–the audience doesn’t need to know every detail. Your aim is to make the audience want to hear the speaker you’re introducing.

Personalised stories make the best introduction–especially if they relate to the speech the audience is waiting to hear. If you don’t have a personal story, tell the audience why you’ve invited the speaker or why you’re proud to have him at your meeting. End the introduction with the speaker’s name. Be sure to articulate the name clearly and pronounce it correctly.

Serving on a panel

If you’re serving on a panel or moderating one, there are a few specifics to remember in order to communicate effectively with your audience.

First, never forget that you’re part of a group. Don’t cut yourself short, but don’t hog the spotlight either.

Second, keep your remarks noteworthy but concise. You can’t tell the audience everything in a few minutes so give the most basic, fundamental information. Prepare, edit and rehearse ahead of time.

Third, make eye contact. Always look at the person to whom you’re speaking. If you’re moderating, making introductions, or talking to the audience, look at the audience. If you’re speaking to or about a panellist, look at that person and gesture in his direction. If someone is talking, look at him and don’t let your eyes wander. Be sure not to project the feeling of boredom or frustration when someone else is speaking.

Fourth, listen intently. You may want to react to comments made by others. Keep pen and paper handy to jot down ideas and thoughts to bring up later in the discussion. When it’s your turn to speak, make your point quickly and concisely. Don’t hog the programme, but don’t be a patsy either.

Adapted from Arch Lustberg How to Sell Yourself 2008