11 Steps of Speech

11 Steps of Speech

Delivering an impactful speech requires a systematic approach that guarantees clarity, engagement, and influence. Start by selecting a topic that resonates with your knowledge, the audience’s expectations, and the occasion.

Next, define the purpose of your speech, whether to inform, persuade, or entertain your listeners.

Prioritize understanding your audience’s demographics, background, and expectations to tailor your content and delivery to their preferences. Identify the core ideas that will drive your message home and research your topic thoroughly for factual accuracy and depth.

Organize your data in a compelling manner that captures your audience’s attention and prepare relevant visual aids to enhance your presentation’s impact. Rehearse your speech multiple times to ensure a seamless delivery that connects with your audience emotionally.

Finally, during your speech, let your personal style and vocal quality shine through to convey your message with confidence and conviction. Follow these steps to transform your speech into a powerful tool that inspires and motivates your audience.

Effective speech needs a number of steps to follow which will make it ‘attractive and successful. The important steps are as follows:

Step 1: Select or Choose the Topic

Every presentation is centered around a particular topic. In formal speechmaking, you need to choose the topic for your presentation.

You may be assigned a topic, usually one within your area of specialization, or you may have the freedom to choose your topic.

If you must select the topic, consider three factors as guidelines;

  1. your knowledge,
  2. your audience, and
  3. the occasion of the speech.

Choose a subject that genuinely interests you. This might seem like a self-evident rule, but it’s often ignored. Speakers sometimes choose topics they believe their audiences will like, only to show up at speech time, lacking the enthusiasm necessary for effective communication.

Therefore, you should select a topic that you are genuinely interested in, that is appropriate for your audience, and over which you have authority.

Step 2: Determine the Purpose of the Speech

Every communication aims to produce a result. Your speech should have a clear purpose, which can be one of three types: informing or instructing, persuading, or entertaining. It’s essential to be specific about the objective of your speech, as this will provide a viewpoint and direction for your speech. It’s often said “A topic isn’t a topic until it has a point of view.”

Step 3: Assess/Analyze the Audience

The message of every communication must be tailored to the audience. Therefore, it’s crucial to gather information about the audience to prepare and present your speech effectively.

Factors such as the size, educational background, occupational homogeneity, age, gender, experience, knowledge of the subject matter, economic status of the audience, speechmaking facilities, time allotted for the speech, location of the speech, and the audience’s perception of the speaker will all influence your planning and presentation of the speech.

You can obtain audience information from the person who asked you to speak and from other members of the group. If all audience members share the same occupation, you can use more technical expressions and illustrations.

Step 4: Select the Main Ideas for the Message

Identify the core ideas or the main theme of your speech. Your initial list of core ideas may be disorganized or haphazard.

Carefully evaluate each theme and select those ideas that are practical and contribute to a unified theme. Some speakers begin by jotting down single words or incomplete sentences on a page, only to rush to the podium and try to organize them on the spot.

Avoid this approach. Don’t assume that your initial structure will be the final version. Instead, work on refining your core ideas and select the most suitable version for your speech.

Step 5: Research the Topic

It’s evident that you won’t possess all the information related to your central theme. Therefore, you need to gather facts, data, and information that will form the foundation of your speech.

In some cases, this involves mining your own experiences for supporting examples or idea development. At times, you may need to conduct primary research in a library or within company files.

For certain topics, consulting colleagues or individuals from other organizations might be necessary. In short, do whatever is required to gather the information that will serve as the basis for your presentation.

Step 6: Organize the Data and Write the Draft

Now, organize your speech using an initial outline. Create a rough draft and then revise it to produce a final version for delivery. Arrange it in the typical structure of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion or summary, following an indirect order.

Introduction

The introduction seeks attention, includes an aim or purpose, and lays out the direction of the speech. The first words usually spoken are the greeting. Your greeting, of course, should fit the audience. “Ladies and Gentlemen” is appropriate for a mixed audience. “Gentlemen” fits an all-male audience. “My fellow—” fits an audience of specific institutional members. Some speakers eliminate the greeting and begin with the speech, especially in more informal and technical presentations.

Three elements are involved here – Porch, Aim, and Layout (PAL):

Porch is your opening remarks. It is your throat-clearing statement, your preamble, your preface, your greeting. It should be interest-gaining and prepare the audience to receive the message. You may gain attention by beginning with:

  • A human-interest story, for storytelling has a strong appeal. Example: Nearly 50 years ago, a man who started his career as a peon is now the owner of a giant empire. It is made possible because of his strong will and an idea of innovation.
  • Humor, a widely used technique. It works best and is safest when it is closely related to the subject of your presentation. Example: What shall I tell you, all have already been told by other speakers or My basket is empty because all the ideas that I intended to tell have already been told.
  • A startling statement—presenting facts and ideas that awaken the mind. Example: Last year, right here in our city, gangsters stole 120 taxicabs! And most of you did nothing about it.
  • Quotations—quoting someone the audience would know and view as credible. Example: “Credit is our right,” said Dr. Muhammad Yunus.
  • Questions—one kind of question is a rhetorical question that everyone answers the same, such as “Who wants to get rid of police violence?” Another kind of question is a background information question. It will give you an indication of how much you can talk about different aspects of your subject. Example: How many of you are Rotarian? Nearly everyone puts a hand up. Then you could skip talking about activities of Rotary club but the contribution of business people to the national economy as Rotarians.

Aim

Aim is the purpose of your speech. Why are you giving your talk? State the subject of your speech in a clear and complete form. Following the interest-gaining opening, it is appropriate to state the subject of your speech. You can follow an indirect way too. You can build up your case before revealing your objectives. It is desirable when your goal is to persuade the audience to accept a new view.

Layout

Layout is your agenda. Tell the audience your main parts; give them a precise understanding of the major points you will cover. It is the roadmap for what follows.

Body

The body is the heart of your talk. Here, you explain and support the main purpose of your presentation. You organize most speeches by factors, as your presentation is built around issues and questions that are subtopics of the subject.

You must emphasize the transitions between the divisions because the listener may miss them if they are not adequately stressed. Speaking has time constraints and, therefore demands that you limit the talk to two or three main points.

Summary or Conclusion

A summary reminds the audience of the main ideas of the talk. The ending includes three elements;

  1. a restatement of the subject,
  2. a summary of the key points developed in the presentation,
  3. a statement of the conclusion. It should be a climactic close.

Present the concluding message in strong language—in words that gain attention and will be remembered. You may give an appropriate quote, use humor, and call for action.

Step 7: Determine the Presentation Method

With the speech organized in a final draft, you are to decide on its mode of presentation. You may present it in any of the following four methods that will fit best with the situation:

Extemporaneous Presentation

It is the most popular and effective method of presentation. It involves speaking from written notes. With this method, you first thoroughly prepare your speech, create an outline, prepare notes, and present the speech from them. Do not memorize but rehearse to make sure you have all the parts clearly in mind.

Memorizing

This is the most difficult method. The entire speech is memorized and delivered thoroughly. It is better to memorize key passages and use notes to help you through the speech.

Reading

This involves speaking from a verbatim script or written lecture sheets. Most of us tend to read aloud in a dull monotone.

We also miss punctuation, fumble over words, lose our place, and so on. You may overcome these problems through practicing the speech. It would be wise not to read speeches until you have mastered this presentation method.

Impromptu Speech

An impromptu speech is a spur-of-the-moment speech, given when you didn’t know you would be called on to speak.

Upon being asked, you stand up and deliver an intelligent set of remarks on the subject at hand without the benefit of notes. Your ability to do this impresses everyone, and pretty soon you find your reputation and job responsibilities on the rise. You can prepare for an impromptu speech by observing the following steps:

  • Learn to anticipate when you might be called upon.
  • Stay current on recent developments.
  • Keep a ready supply of anecdotes, witty remarks, and impressive facts in mind.

Step 8: Create Visual Aids

Visual aids can help overcome the limitations of spoken words. A listener who misses the vocal message may not have a chance to hear it again. Visual aids such as charts, graphs, pictures, models, diagrams, maps, and the like provide the opportunity to convey your message.

Speakers use visual aids to clarify information for the audience or reinforce the impact of the information (Well, 1985:557). Visual aids help eliminate potential speech confusion, simplify complex information, improve cohesiveness, and add interest.

You should select your visuals primarily based on their ability to communicate content.

Your choice may also be influenced by the audience size and formality, the cost of preparing and using the media, and the ease and time of preparation. You should evaluate the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each type of visual aid and know how to use each type effectively.

For instance, most statistical information requires a graph or a table to be fully clear, while spatial information is best conveyed through a diagram or a map.

Guidelines For Effective Visuals

Visuals typically convey key parts of the message. To use them effectively, consider the following guidelines:

  1. Ensure that everyone in the audience can see the visuals clearly.
  2. Explain the visual if there’s any likelihood of misunderstanding.
  3. Integrate the visuals into your presentation plan.
  4. Emphasize the visuals by pointing to them physically and verbally.
  5. Address the audience, not just the visuals. Look at the visuals only when the audience should.
  6. Avoid blocking the audience’s view of the visuals. Ensure that pulpits, pillars, chairs, or other obstructions don’t hinder the audience’s view. Be mindful not to stand in anyone’s line of sight.
  7. Introduce the visuals briefly.
  8. Ensure visuals are large enough to be seen anywhere in the room.
  9. Keep the visuals simple by limiting the number of bars, lines, and curves.
  10. Round off figures for clarity.

Step 9: Rehearsal the talk

Rehearsal will make you more comfortable with the materials, and you can still revise where necessary. Stand and deliver your talk out loud when rehearsing. Three times rehearsal is recommended. Keep the following in mind during rehearsal:

  • Always imagine the audience in front of you.
  • Take each of the main points one at a time and learn to present each with its supporting material as a unit.
  • Include the visual aids you will use and in the margin, not where each aid should be used.
  • Anticipate questions from the audience. Jot them on paper and consider thoughtful answers.
  • Stop at the allotted time. Then, cut and revise the speech accordingly until you can deliver it within the time limit, allowing also for a question and answer period.

Step 10: Consider the Personal Aspects

In speech, the speaker is a part of the message. Your audience takes in the words you communicate and what they see in you. What they see in you can significantly affect the meanings that develop in their minds.

Thus, you should carefully evaluate your personal effect on the message you present. Take care of the following aspects of personal demeanor:

A. Personal Characteristics

Four personal characteristics will make you a powerful speaker. So, consider the discussions and suggestions below to overcome potential issues.

Confidence

Your confidence in yourself and your audience’s confidence in you are two vital, complementary factors essential for a good speaker.

Your confidence in yourself tends to project an image that inspires confidence in your audience. Similarly, your audience’s confidence in you can bolster your sense of security, thereby making you more confident in your ability.

How to earn the confidence of your audience:

  • Maintain a long-term connection with the audience.
  • Diligently prepare and thoroughly practice your presentation, boosting your self-confidence and leading to more effective communication. This, in turn, will instill confidence in your listeners.
  • Pay careful attention to your physical appearance. Certain styles of dress and grooming create strong impressions in people’s minds, which can be either favorable or unfavorable. Therefore, analyze your audience and develop a physical appearance that fosters confidence.
  • Speak in strong, clear tones. Such tones contribute significantly to projecting an image of confidence.

Sincerity

Your listeners can quickly discern insincerity. If they detect it in you, they are likely to give little weight to what you say. Therefore, be sincere because sincerity is invaluable for conviction.

The way to project an image of sincerity is clear and simple: you must genuinely be sincere. Pretending to be sincere rarely succeeds (Lesikar and Flatley, 2005: 438).

Thoroughness

A thorough presentation is better received than a superficial or rushed one. Comprehensive coverage creates the impression that time and care have been invested, making the presentation more believable. However, keep in mind that excessive detail can become noise. Exercise judgment about what listeners need to know and what can be omitted.

Friendliness

An image of friendliness positively influences a speech. People naturally gravitate toward friendly individuals and are generally receptive to what they say.

Therefore, project a genuinely friendly image. Engage in some self-analysis and observe your speaking practices in front of a mirror to discover the secrets of projecting a friendly image.

Interest

You must have a genuine interest in the topic you’re addressing. The subject of your discussion should resonate with a personal interest and aptitude. If a topic doesn’t interest you, it’s best to avoid it.

Originality

Presenting original thoughts can captivate the audience and build their confidence in you. Share insights that haven’t been expressed by others. Offering a fresh perspective on an issue can convince listeners to trust your voice.

Flexibility

People appreciate diverse viewpoints and interpretations. Therefore, avoid being rigidly attached to a single perspective. Explore various approaches and present them with varying tones.

Enthusiasm

Your speech should be delivered with enthusiasm. Let your passion shine through. Listeners should be convinced of your deep interest in the topic. Their confidence in you will rest on a lively and heartfelt presentation.

B. Personal Appearance and Physical Actions

The audience not only listens to you but also observes you, which is an integral part of the message and can greatly influence the success of your speech. The following six factors help form listeners’ impressions about you:

Personal Appearance

Your personal appearance is a crucial aspect of the message. Therefore, you should dress appropriately for the audience and the occasion, maintaining cleanliness and good grooming.

Walking

The way you walk before your audience also leaves an impression. A confident, purposeful walk to the speaker’s position conveys confidence, while hesitant, awkward steps give the opposite impression. Excessive walking, however, can be distracting and detract from the message.

So, walk only when reasonably necessary to achieve the desired effect. Avoid walking away from the microphone.

Facial Expression

Facial expressions are highly visible and communicative physical movements. A joyful expression, a smile, a grimace, or a puzzled frown can all convey clear messages. You should utilize these effective communication devices.

Eyes, often considered the mirrors of the soul, communicate sincerity, goodwill, and flexibility to most observers. Thoughtful eye contact demonstrates genuine interest in your audience.

Posture

Your posture is one of the most obvious things your audience observes. It significantly affects communication. Maintain an erect posture without appearing stiff and be comfortable without appearing lethargic. Maintain a poised, alert, and communicative bearing.

Distribute your body weight in a way consistent with the impression you want to convey. Conduct yourself naturally, as an artificial posture can create an appearance of insincerity (Lesikar and Flatley, 2005: 440).

Gestures

Gestures enhance the effectiveness of communication. Slicing the air with your hand can indicate divisions, while a clenched fist can add emphasis to a strong point.

The appropriateness of gestures depends on personality, physical attributes, and the size and nature of the audience. You might use fewer gestures in a formal setting and more in an informal one.

C. Use of Voice

A good voice is a fundamental requirement for effective speaking. Your voice should not hinder the listener’s focus on the message. To achieve this, consider the following guidelines:

Use a Wide Variety of Pitch

Avoid speaking in monotones, as listeners generally find it uninteresting.

Vary Speaking Speed

Present easy parts of your message at a relatively fast pace and slower for complex or emphasized points. This approach makes your speech more engaging. Use pauses effectively, emphasizing upcoming subject matter.

Properly utilized pauses are an effective means of capturing attention. Pauses can become irritating when filled with distracting non-words like “uh,” “you know,” and “OK.”

Speak in Varying Manner

Effective speaking involves giving words their due emphasis by varying your speaking style.

Achieve this by;

  1. varying the pitch of your voice,
  2. adjusting the pace of your delivery, and
  3. modulating the volume of your voice.

Ensure you speak loudly enough for the entire audience to hear but avoid excessive volume. Voice variety adds interest, emphasis, and contrast, making it key to enhancing vocal effectiveness.

Use a Pleasant Voice

While most voices are reasonably pleasant, some may be raspy, nasal, or otherwise unpleasant. If you have an unpleasant voice, consider voice therapy to improve it.

Alternatively, you can make an unpleasant voice more acceptable by varying pitch, delivery speed, and volume, as these variations can compensate for voice quality issues.

Step 11: Deliver or present your speech

Wells (2000: 557) presented the following guidelines to make speech presentation effective. The moment arrives. Your speech is about to begin. You are (you hope) as prepared as you can be.

Even if you’re an experienced speechmaker, you’re at least a little nervous. (The less experienced, the more nervous you probably are.) Once the speech begins, there are relatively few things you can concentrate on. Yet, there are many things you must do to make the speech as effective as it can be.

So, you want to consider each of the following points closely before each speech—then consider them again in evaluating your speech after you’ve given it.

Approach the moment of your speech with confidence and authority

You’re prepared, and you know your subject. Be sure that your demeanor exudes it! Look confident as you await your turn to speak, and as you approach the rostrum when the moment arrives.

People will be watching you in those minutes before your speech (as well as during it). What they see should impress them.

Get set before you begin

Whether you’re speaking from behind a rostrum or more informally in front of your audience, be sure you’re comfortably in position, with your notes and visuals in place, before you start to speak.

If you begin and then have to straighten a microphone, take a drink of water, or arrange your notes, your opening remarks will be lost in the resuming distraction.

Begin without looking at your notes

Memorize your opening remark. The audience will understand why you must glance at your notes during the course of the speech, but they’re likely to doubt your sincerity or your preparedness if you have to consult your notes in order to begin.

Establish eye contact and maintain it throughout the speech

Whether you’re speaking from notes, from memory, or from a script, spend as much of your speech time as possible in direct eye contact with your audience. Catch the eye of one, then another, then yet another member of your audience.

Move your attention around from side to side, from front to back, from the middle to the extreme corners of your audience—not in any set pattern, but randomly. Make your remarks directly to people, not just to an audience en masse.

Avoid sloppy language habits

If you’re speaking extemporaneously from notes or from memory, avoid those “and-uhs” and “you-knows” that so often fill the spaces in talk that we hear.

Listen to tape recordings of yourself, note your sloppy habits (if you have them), and commit yourself to not making any sounds that aren’t a part of your well-considered flow of language.

Avoid careless posture

You can rest your hands on the rostrum if you wish (you have to put them somewhere), but don’t give your audience the impression that you’re “holding on for dear life.” Don’t lean, slouch, cross your legs, or in any other way allow your “body language” to suggest a sloppy approach to your subject or your audience.

Use gestures and facial expressions effectively.

Using your hands freely and naturally will aid your delivery in several ways. It will help relax you. Your obvious relaxation will help to relax your audience.

And you’ll be able to more effectively emphasize your main words as you speak them. Naturalness is the key. Don’t wave your arms about wildly, but don’t lock them at your sides either or glue them to the rostrum or into your pockets.

As your hands gesture freely, let your facial expressions reflect your feelings about what you’re saying. A lively personality is simply more enjoyable to listen to than a rigid stone face. And the hands and face are largely what convey liveliness.

Avoid distracting habits with your hands

If your hands are at work supplementing your words, they won’t have time for those distracting habits we often see in speakers—repeatedly brushing their hair from their eyes, playing with a pencil, scratching their elbows, stroking their beards, and so on.

These gestures, unrelated to the content of the speech, inevitably distract listeners from that content.

Dress with respect for your audience

The need to look impressive is, if anything, even greater when you’re standing before an audience who await your authoritative remarks on your subject.

You ought to look authoritative too. And look as though you have respect for the audience who, after all, have invited you and are devoting their time to listening to you.

Speak up

Obviously, your speech won’t move the audience if it’s mumbled at them. But more than this, you have to realize that the larger the audience and the larger the room, the more energy it requires for your voice to be heard clearly at the rear.

You must also be sure to vary the pitch and volume of your voice—don’t drone. Even while your eyes are making contact with people up front, your voice should be reaching the person furthest away. And if you’re speaking into a microphone, be sure your mouth is precisely that optimum distance away for it to amplify most clearly.

Move around, if it’s feasible

If you’re not glued to a microphone or to your notes on the lectern, and if your speech is informal, you might even move away from your starting point and station yourself for several moments at various points in the front of the room. (Some speakers even work the aisles.)

As long as your mobility is relaxed, that freedom of movement will also help to relax your audience.

Convey enthusiasm

Even if your subject is serious, you want to exude a sense of enjoyment at the opportunity to speak about it—and pleasure that those particular people out there are the ones who are listening to you. Make your subject seem special to you; make your audience seem special to you.

If you goof, stay cool.

Even the most experienced speakers will fumble a word or phrase here or there. But when they catch themselves in a goof, they make light of it—often even ignore it.

They do not go back and emphasize the error by re-enunciating it (unless clarity requires it), and they don’t get flustered and speed up the speech as though escaping from the scene of the blunder. They stay cool, knowing that coolness is not only most impressive but also the best way to avoid other blunders.

Don’t begin “packing” until you’re done.

Even though you know you’re approaching the end, don’t start gathering your notes together until you’ve finished and the audience knows you’re finished. If you do, your audience will also, psychologically, start looking for the exits—and your well-developed conclusion will fizzle out.

When you’re finished, move off confidently.

Even if you feel the speech didn’t go well (and don’t sometimes feel that things could have gone better?), leave the rostrum confidently—just as you approached it, taking pride in what you have offered your audience.

If your departure reflects disappointment or frustration, you virtually assure that your audience will be disappointed, too. They’ll take their cue from you. Your confidence will, to a certain extent, increase their confidence that they’ve heard a speech worth hearing.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, the process of making an effective speech is three-phased. There are preliminaries that must be carefully attended to. You must determine (unless the situation determines it for you) an appropriate subject and purpose and then assess the audience you’ll be addressing.

After the preliminaries, there is the necessary preparation— a lot of it. You’ve got to decide what form of speech you want to give (whether impromptu, from notes, from memory, or from a full script), and “write” the speech accordingly. You must also prepare the opening and closing of your speech for maximum effect and prepare your visual aids as well.

Finally, after the preliminaries and the preparation, there is the presentation itself— and the number of things you must be sure to do (and avoid) in delivering your speech to the audience.