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conference

How to prepare a speaker for an event

Nick Gold, managing director at Speakers Corner

For any speaker preparing for an event, there are two distinct areas that are critical to the success of their delivery.  Firstly, the content, and secondly, the stage presence and delivery.

With respect to the content, a speaker should own it, feeling at ease and comfortable with the subject matter.  Ideally, they would write the speech themselves, but if they need assistance, they should still write the outline and as much content as they are comfortable with so that help can be provided in restructuring and cleaning up rather than formulating the ideas.  If this is their story or about an area to which they have emotional attachment, the writing process should come naturally. 

However, if they are presenting a plan, a strategy or an idea on behalf of a company, they must be fully engaged, understanding and believing in the idea.  This is critical as there is no more revealing a platform than a stage in front of an audience where the speaker runs the risk of being exposed.

If the speaker owns their content and believes in what they are saying, this is a massive step towards preparation for the second area: stage presence and delivery.  Very few of us are natural orators with an innate confidence and ability to own any stage. 

For the majority, we are wracked with nerves; we want to hide behind the lectern, our hands become appendages with a mind of their own and we seem to speak at three times the speed that is anything close to coherent. 

So, here’s three pieces  of advice:

Firstly, make sure the speaker is reassured that the audience are on their side; they want the speaker to succeed, and just this realisation is a huge step towards taking the stage with confidence and the swagger needed to deliver a great speech. 

Secondly, even if slides are used, make sure the speaker knows their content, not word for word delivery but rather the flow and key points to hit at specific times. 

Finally practice, practice, practice! When a speaker can’t take it anymore - having delivered the speech 100 times in preparation - get them to do it one more time. After all, we are all constantly improving.