10 Secrets to a brilliant speech

Even though I have given thousands of presentations and lectures I don’t think I am that good at public speaking and I still get nervous. There are loads electrifying speakers out there that you can learn a great deal from in terms of presentation, poise, magnetism and charisma.

Here are some ground rules that have allowed me present to international audiences.

1. Don’t focus on being a great public speaker. Concentrate on being a great teacher so that if something is missing in the delivery you can make up for it by having great content.

2. It does not matter if people disagree with you or your point of view, but no one should misunderstand you. Your points must be clear and illustrated with examples.

3. Don’t worry about being nervous. If you give a clear presentation with excellent content people will forgive you. Everyone gets nervous even after presenting for decades – nerves add excitement and passion in the delivery.

4. The most important rule is to have fun and enjoy it.

I like to have a tea of a coke 15 minutes before a presentation – maybe the caffeine rush is helping or it could be a placebo.

5.     Split the talk into 3 parts.

For  hour talk – divide it into 3 x 15 minute segments with15 minutes for Q & A.

6. For each 15 minutes segment is divided into 3 parts.   2-3 minutes for the introduction, 10 minutes for the body of presentation, 2 minutes close/summary/conclusions.

 For each main point use

–       make the point, give an example or case study and re-enforce the point (PEP).

–       or give an example or case study, make the point and then give another example or case study (EPE).

For each 10 minutes segment you have time for only 3 points.

Use visual aids – powerpoint, videos, audio. (I haven’t mentioned these because it academia we have become over reliant on these and leave for someone else to post)

7.  Now work on the introduction – there is a saying which is “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression”.

The introduction needs to capture the attention of the audience. Rehearse it many times. Memorise the introduction so even if you get nervous you will know what to say and get into to flow. Your nerves will soon subside. Unless you are a comedian or you have tested the jokes (a number of times) – avoid starting with a joke. If the joke does not work you will have a bad start.

8. Now repetition is the key to success, you must practice each segment many times to get it perfect. Rehearse the introduction, segment 1, segment 2, segment 3 and the close separately. Use a timer to ensure that you can fit everything into the time slot and you don’t over run.

How many times do you need to practice? It depends on the individual. I have often used the 10x rule on what I do. But do it until you are happy with it.

I never memorise the speech word for word but make sure that I have memorized the introduction and closing 2-3 sentences for each portion.

9.  Once you have mastered each segment then put it together into a full speech/presentation. Put in the closing statements.

10. Link everything together and do the whole thing several times until you are happy with it. If you forget 10% of memorised lines then that’s fine. Make sure you have hit all the main points.

You probably won’t be able to sleep the night before. Go to bed earlier 2 nights before. Rehearse just before you go to sleep – then you will feel you have done the job and get a good rest.

Next day go for a 10-15 minutes walk. Avoid too much caffeine when you are nervous so that you don’t feel burnt out.

If you have done the above you will more prepared than 90% of the speakers. Most speakers focus on the delivery and not the content. Remember delivery will suffer first from nerves. Content is KING and will not be affected by nerves.


How do you prepare? Comments and your tips please!

Most important celebrate & have fun


3 responses

  1. Reblogged this on Computational Physics Group and commented:
    A very good text from the blog of Professor Waqar Ahmed.

  2. Golden rules for an impressive presentation. Thanks alot for sharing it with us.

  3. Thanks this is useful.

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