The Importance of Delivery
Your appearance and delivery are just as important as your speech. You want your audience to give you respect and to take you seriously, so be sure to dress well. For your dress, consider what your particular audience will expect of you. In most cases, this means business casual, but sometimes a suit or dress may be necessary (Figure 1).
In order to dress to impress, men should wear a button-up shirt and tie, blazer (optional), dress pants, and dress shoes. Men should also be clean shaven and have tidy hair.
In order to dress to impress, women should wear a button-up shirt, blouse, or a nice sweater, dress pants or skirt (one that goes below the knee), and dress heals or flats. Women should not wear too much make-up, and they should have tidy hair. Women should also avoid large dangling jewelry, as this can be distracting to your audience.
Deliver Your Message
Act poised and confident; don’t let your nerves get the best of you. Accept your nervousness and work with it. Everyone understands how it feels to be nervous and will be supportive. When rehearsing, identify your weak spots, practice fixing them, as well as practice hitting the crucial points in your speech. Do your best to avoid fidgeting, pacing, looking at the floor, and over using “um”, “uh”, or “and.” Try to breathe easy and pace your speech. The most important thing to remember before giving your speech is to deliver your message. If you forget to say certain points it is fine, just deliver your message and let the audience know the main objective of your speech. Find comfort in knowing that your nervousness is not as visible to others as it is to you.
While standing in front of a large or small audience for a presentation, body language is crucial. Audiences may become distracted if you flail a laser pointer or fidget with a pen. As a presenter, remain relaxed and calm while creating animated and lively facial expressions. Always remember to smile, maintain eye contact with the audience, and enjoy your experience as a presenter.
The great thing about presenting a speech is that you can gauge the understanding of your audience by paying attention to them. If your listeners are looking confused, you can ask if they understand before moving on to the next point. You can then back-up and re-explain your points as needed. Make eye contact with your audience members, and make sure not to stare at your notes the whole time. If you have a large audience, make sure to alternate talking to the audience members to the right and left of you as well as in front of you. When you begin your speech do not look at your notes, look at your audience! You know your topic and who you are so introduce yourself and your topic as you would introduce yourself when you meet a new person.
The following strategies will help you look at your audience:
- Look at your audience before you begin
- Create and follow a plan for looking
- Pick a particular feature of your listeners' faces
- Practice looking at the audience while rehearsing
- Avoid skimming over faces in your audience