Ok, so keeping in line with 21st birthday party ideas, you’ve been asked by your friend to give a speech at her 21st. You’ve never given a speech before and you think to yourself that you wish you were on the other side of the world right now so you wouldn’t have to do this. One thing I can assure is that you are not alone. Giving speeches (or public speaking) is one of the most terrifying things that humans have to encounter. It is said in Australia that after the fear of death, the fear of public speaking is the next most common fear amongst Australians. So just to reinforce, you are not alone in the process. I can also assure you that the first speech you will ever give in your whole life will be the hardest so if you can break your public speaking virginity, you have unlocked the gate.
When giving a speech at a friend’s 21st, the key thing to remember is PREPARATION. I’ve seen many people (who were already nervous by the fact they had to give a speech) go in unprepared and that is just a recipe for disaster. Unless you’ve knocked off many speeches before in your life, you need to spend the time researching and preparing what you will say. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your speech:
- Make a list of all the stories you that you can recall about your friend. Stories are the meat of speeches. They are what engages the audience and tickles their emotions. When brainstorming for stories, don’t worry if you think it will be funny or not. The thing is to get some juicy content which you can talk about. Story ideas can range from a funny incident that occurred between you and your friend, an emotionally challenging moment your friend went through or a moment of success in your friend’s life.
- Once you have a few stories you can shell out, the key then is to find common themes between them that reflect your friend’s personality and habits. For example, you might notice that your friend has a very friendly and social demeanour which can sometimes put him off his main goal. If he’s standing in a line to go watch a football match, he might have struck up a conversation with an attractive girl in the line and ended up talking to her the whole night without going to the game. It’s important to have one theme which can be used to tease your friend about for comedy purposes and 2 other themes which show positive traits of your friend.
- Once you have the stories and themes, it’s time to start writing. Speeches should be written similar to essays with an introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction should be something that immediately grabs the attention of the crowd (e.g. a joke). It should also state the themes and traits used in the stories of your friend which you will discuss in the body. The body should be about the stories you have brainstormed. Ensure you balance the content with serious as well as funny stuff. The conclusion should then address the underlying themes of the stories starting first with the funny one and then finishing off with the positive ones. It’s important to end on a good note.
- After you have written the speech, it is important to practise speaking it several times over. This is absolutely crucial because at the end of the day, it is more the way you say it then what you say that captures an audience. You want to get to the point where you’ve literally memorised the speech word for word. If possible, get a couple of people like family or friends (not the birthday friend of course) to practise in front of. Practise is what will bring confidence when it’s time to get on stage.
- Ok, so you’ve got your speech set and you’ve practised it like you’re preparing for an exam. You’re at the your friend’s birthday party and it’s time to give the speech. At this point, it’s best to have a printed copy of the speech and read over it a few times. The key here is to calm the nerves. Focus on your breath inhaling and exhaling slowly. Don’t tell others that you are giving a speech as this may add to your stress levels. You want to remain low key until you have to deliver. When it’s time for you to speak, drop the fear and give it everything you’ve got.
Following these simple steps you’ll be surprised at how well you do. Breaking the hoodoo of public speaking will not only give you the confidence to speak in front of large crowds for the rest of your life, but will also allow you to brainstorm more 21st birthday party ideas for speeches.