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Mike Dyson's Top Tips on Delivering a Great Speech

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We have linked up with Mike Dyson of Individual Development Solutions which focuses on practical solutions to personal development needs. More and more our members are expected to be proficient at such skills as public speaking, leadership, communication, negotiation etc. – but in many cases they have not had the appropriate level of support and coaching to teach them those skills.

Mike has had forty years’ experience in large multinationals to develop those skills over time and was latterly Europe Head of a technical area in a leading multinational financial services organisation where he also developed a Global Education & Training solution for more than 7,000 colleagues in 60 countries. In addition, Mike has delivered training workshops for 10 years for a major international professional development organisation, with upcoming workshops in Edinburgh, Warsaw and the south east of England.

We are currently working with Mike on some practical, relaxed and effective public speaking workshops drawing on Mike’s experience and we have been able to agree an 80% discount off Mike’s normal price for members; so keep an eye on the Events section of the BPS website (you will not be put on the spot at these workshops, that’s a promise).

In the meantime, here are just some of Mike’s tips to help you to deliver a great speech.

Cue Cards (index cards)

These can be useful but there are some golden rules:

  1. Less is more – use them as memory joggers and write on them as little as you need.  You do not need them as a comfort blanket with your entire speech written on them because that would be too confusing given the small size of the cards.  If you feel you need every word written down then use proper notes and use a highlighter pen to highlight key headings and phrases.
  2. If you are using full notes then attach them to a clip board or stiff card unless you can rest them on a lectern. This will avoid them rustling if your hands are trembling.
  3. Back to cue cards – write just on one side of each card and number them in the top right hand corner like this – 1 of 20, 2 of 20, 3 of 20 etc. – also, invest in a hole punch and punch one hole in the top left hand corner of each card and another hole in the bottom left hand corner.  Then put a piece of string or a cable tie through each of the holes and tie them so that the cards turn over like a book but are not too tight.  This seems rather long winded but cards do get dropped and it is a disaster if they have spilled out onto the floor and you have lost your place. This measure makes sure that, even if you do drop them, you can quickly and easily pick them up and find your place. The fact that you have numbered them 1 of 20 etc. means that you know how far through your speech you are at all times (it is surprising what a ‘mind blank’ can do so it is worth doing).

Lectern

  1. There are good reasons to have a lectern but there are also downsides. On the positive side they are good for resting notes on and, if there is a microphone attached, you don’t have any choice (more about mics later). However, the negative is that some speakers see them as a safe harbour and cling onto them for dear life; knuckles get progressively whiter as they grip the lectern and, in extreme cases, they lean on the lectern which begins to tip forward – nightmare!  The best approach is not to hold the lectern at all and to use your arms to add expression to your speech.
  2. Remember, you are the boss and if there is a lectern there but you don’t want it then don’t have it. It has probably been put there by some well meaning admin person and there is no problem moving it to one side or just ignoring it.
  3. Lecterns can make your speech boring because you are static and are probably reading from notes. When was the last time you saw Mark Zuckerberg use a lectern?

Microphone

  1. If you are offered the use of a microphone take it, they are great when used properly.
  2. If you have a choice go for a wireless lapel mic.  Once it’s on you can forget about it but make sure you do a sound check first so it is positioned correctly.  If it’s a hand held mic make sure you know where the on/off button is.
  3. Speak normally, you don’t need to shout (that’s what the mic is for).  Also, if it’s hand held, don’t hold it up to your mouth in pop star mode but do remember your sound check.

If you follow these tips you will come across better to your audience and this will increase your confidence because you will feed off the positive vibes (believe me, it works).