Step 5: Give your speech

Step 5: Give your speech

What you need to have ready:

  • A well-rehearsed script on a piece of paper / tablet
  • Slides on a usb stick / laptop, if applicable
  • A bottle of water (unless provided by the venue)
  • Clicker (unless provided by the venue)


Final day preparations

Presence exercise

Give your speech

It’s presentation day. There’s a special tingle in the air. This is going to be exciting. 

In the morning: 

Drink a lot of water, especially if you will be speaking for longer than 15 min or if your throat tends to get dry. The water will get stored in your body, and your exhalations will keep your throat moist. If you know that you’ll get hyperactive when you get nervous, don’t drink coffee. (On the other hand, if you’re like me and tend to slow down when you’re nervous, by all means, have your cup of coffee.) Do something that freshes you up and takes your mind off the speech: take a walk, exercise, meditate. 

One hour before your speech: 

Arrive early, preferably one hour in advance. 

When you first enter the venue, there are things you can do to feel more in control. This might sound like a lot, but you will quickly learn to do this in less than 1 minute. First, straighten your back and take a deep breath. Let your eyes calmly scan the entire room, taking everything in that happens within it. Imagine your energy filling the entire room, all the way to the furthermost corners. This will make you feel like the space is yours. Everything that happens within the room is now your business. For this moment, you are responsible for the wellbeing of everyone you see inside that room. You will feel more calm, confident, benevolent, and in control. Smile. 

To keep in control, your body is key. Keep your posture straight. Imagine there’s a string on the top of your head, pulling you upwards. Slow down your movements, slow down your speaking, allow your voice to resonate more powerfully from deep within, and keep your sight confidently at eye level. Aim to turn these changes into habits, so that you habitually adopt a confident, calm and powerful posture whenever you’re about to give a speech. 

After quickly checking the technology (your slides, clicker, sounds, microphone, videos), get to know the audience. This is crucial. Don’t make the common mistake of practicing until the last minute. You’ll just clutter your brain and block yourself from the most important thing of all: being present in the moment. Instead, chat with the audience members. Be curious about them. If you don’t know them yet, get to know them. If you do, find out how they are doing at that particular moment. This way, you’ll build rapport and perhaps even find some stories to share on the stage. (E.g. “I just had a chat with a gentleman here, and he told me something that really connected with me…”)

If you don’t know what to ask, here are some questions I’ve found effective: What brought you here? What do you hope to get from the show? If you don’t mind me asking, what has been a recent success for you? And what have you struggled with recently? 

10-15 minutes before your speech:

Find a calm spot and have a moment of peace. If there’s no backstage, I often go to the bathroom. Now it’s time for you to drop everything you had in your mind and allow your brain to reset, so you can be at your best on the stage. For this, listen to the Presence exercise. 

5 minutes before your speech:

If you’re feeling nervous, move to burn off the adrenaline. Do push-ups, stretch, jump, whatever it takes to get some of that adrenaline to burn off. 

When called to the stage:

Walk confidently to the stage, shake the hand of the host if there is one, get to the front of the stage (unless there’s a podium), then PAUSE. Look into your audience & smile. This is your moment. 

Then - start. 

During speaking:

If you forget what to say, it’s not the end of the world. it happens to most speakers in most speeches. There are many ways to clear a blackout without anyone noticing:

  1. Pause. Let your eyes scan the audience. If you keep eye contact, you will just seem confident. 
  2. Drink water. 
  3. Check your notes (on the speaker’s table / note cards).
  4. Confidently admit you blacked out and will get back on track soon. You can say e.g. “we’re experiencing some technical difficulties. Normal service will be restored soon”. 

Remember, the audience is on your side. Even if they’re quiet, they’re cheering for you. They want you to succeed.

Finally, forget all the advice and enjoy the moment. You can do whatever you want. The audience is on your side. 

This is your moment.

Good luck. 

Complete and Continue