Specialist speeches – How to prepare for and deliver an outstanding speech
Master of Ceremonies
As a Master of Ceremonies, your job is to be the link between the different speakers or events. You are the glue that holds the function together, so you’ll need to be well briefed about the format, and confident enough to think on your feet if things go off track. The success of your MC experience will depend on how much you know about the function and what is expected of you, so you can properly prepare.
As you are introducing other speakers, you need to know a little about them. Take the time to talk to each speaker before the occasion, if possible, and ask how they would like to be introduced. Think of yourself as the link between speeches when scripting your own material.
Keep it short – the MC is not the main event. If you talk for too long, the audience will become restless before the main speakers have even started. Keep the mood fun and upbeat.
Ask for the agenda, and stick to it. Your job is to keep the event on track. To do this you should be able to command the attention of an audience. You might like to have a watch on the lectern so you can nod to speakers when you need them to wrap up their presentations. This may not always be appropriate – ask in advance what the organiser would like you to do if speakers take longer than their allotted time.
If you prepare, you can deliver an outstanding occasion.
The dictionary defines a toast as a tribute or proposal of health and success, marked by raising glasses and drinking together’. Giving a toast may seem easy, but if you haven’t thought it through, it’s easy to go blank at the crucial moment. Talk to the person who has asked you to make the toast to see if they have any specific requirements. What do they want your toast to achieve? A toast should only be two or three minutes long, so be sure to time yourself during rehearsal and cut your speech back if necessary.
Deliver the toast standing up, and be aware that you may have your back to some people – if so, consider moving to the front of the room or at least acknowledging the people behind you before starting to speak. When you have finished, raise your glass, say ‘To …( whoever)’ and take a drink. This action signals the end of the speech.
Preparing your toast up-front, will make your toast a outstanding asset to the occasion.
Thank you speeches
Thank you speeches are sometimes planned and sometimes impromptu, depending on the circumstances. If you know it’s coming up, prepare and rehearse as for any other speech. If it’s a surprise, try to remember the following points:
- Thank everyone as a group, and a few key people individually, rather than listing a large number of people.
- Say why you are thanking the person or audience.
- Keep it simple and succinct – a gracious thank you and exit is far more compelling than a half- hour ramble.
However, if you have been honoured for something that has taken a lot of work or a lifetime achievement, may like to outline some of the work you’ve done, or prepare a speech themed around the goals of the organisation you’ve worked for. It really depends on the circumstances, so think carefully about what type of thank you speech is appropriate.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you will be able to prepare for and deliver an outstanding speech.
Portions: Maggie Eyre, Speak Easy 2007