Giving a speech – tips from a drama queen

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

"drama school report"

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!

18 thoughts on “Giving a speech – tips from a drama queen”

  1. Thank you for posting this… I am so nervous…. I know I need to practice but I don’t want to over-practice either. Will you hold my hand? XXX

  2. Yikes – good luck to the both of you! You are a couple of brave young ladies. If I was in your place, forget stuffing a hand between my legs…I’d be reaching for the incontinence pants!

  3. Wow, good luck to you both! I am sure that you and mummy will be fab – marshmallows all round at the end :))

  4. After six training courses and almost £1000 paid out by different employers I’ve decided public speaking just isn’t for me, but I did learn that people are always willing you on when you speak, not looking for you to trip up!

    • It is nerve-wracking, I know! I once did the whole autocue speech thing to a huge room full of people at work which was well scary, but I kind of enjoyed it. And thank you – I will try and imagine them all rooting for me 🙂

  5. I need to print this out and read it to myself every night this week before bed – except Friday as I’ll be sleeping with a snoring yeti woman 😉

    ps. love yoo!


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