In 9 days time, my Mum will be giving a speech at BritMums Live. I know this because of the incessant chuntering that forms the backdrop to my teatime and bathtime routine. I have also been asked to listen to excerpts from the post she will be reading and provide my critique. I have obliged her with my best advice:
Tips on giving a speech from an expert in drama
The Bug and I attend Stagecoach classes every weekend. Being centre-stage is something we strive for daily, so we thought it best to get some formal training. So when Mummy asked for tips on projecting, and engaging her audience, I knew exactly what to say.
“If you’re nervous, imagine that they’re all in their underwear…”
“Shit! That’s a really scary thought!” she blurted. “They’re all Mummy Bloggers!”
“Oh, well if that doesn’t work try imagining that they’re all ducks with really tiny brains.”
“Erm, explain that to me…,” she looked puzzled.
“So, ducks have really small brains, so you’d speak to them really slowly, and really clearly, you know, to help them understand.”
“Yep, erm, no, that’s not going to work, you see, because there’s this blogger who insists she is a duck, not a pumpkin, and she would definitely be cross with me if I imagined her with a tiny brain. I’d lock eyes with her and clam up immediately. Imagine the embarrassment! I’m going to need more to work with here…”
Coincidentally, I’m also scheduled to make a speech soon. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream…” speech, and we are studying this iconic address at school. I then have to make a speech to my class, who will vote, and if mine is chosen, I will make it again to the whole school, for a chance to win the Speech Cup. So I shared my recently acquired knowledge with my Mother:
Top 5 tips for giving a speech
- It may sound obvious, but choose something interesting to talk about! Then match your delivery style to your topic. No point talking about the death of a hamster with a giggle in your voice. And whining my way through my talk on marshmallows (yes, I really am) would just sound ungrateful.
- Practice! In order to really engage your audience, you need to look those tiny ducks in the eye as much as possible. Muttering into your notes will not get you a standing quackation.
- Make it personal. Know what your audience is about and you’ll be able to engage them more easily. Choose a subject personal to you, and the passion will come across more easily – hence the marshmallows.
- Body language. You say as much with your body as you do with your voice. You might want to consider going to the loo before you mount the podium. There’s nothing worse than a fidgety speaker. Or one with her hand stuffed firmly between her legs.
- Be careful what you drink; too much caffeine can make you jittery, too much water will just exasperate the above problem, and too much wine will give you wobbly legs and a tendency towards square-words.
I have high hopes for Mummy. I am sure she will cope. How could she not? It’s genetic – she helped produce me, and I produced results like this last year:
Mummy will be giving a speech about the worries of being a parent – to a room full of parents. That’s a bit scary. I will be giving a speech about marshmallows – to a room full of sugar-loving children. That’s even scarier. Wish us luck!