A Speech Tip if You are New to Public Speaking

Speech and Speaking

A year ago, I was asked to speak to our local Rotary Club. My speech topic was, What Not to Say to Someone who has Cancer. I tweaked the speech until I finally felt like it was as good as it would get. Then I practiced this speech several times a day, every day, for a couple of weeks.

I am always worried that I will freeze up, so I have to have my entire speech in front of me, typed out word for word. I’m also afraid that I will drop my pages or rely too heavily on them, leaving my audience to stare at the top of my head as I look down.

Speaking with a Mouse

So, I came up with an idea that I used during my practice sessions. I increased the font size on my word document until it was large enough to easily see from 20 feet away. Then I used a wireless mouse to scroll down the document as I practiced my speech in front of my kids. At first, they didn’t even realize what I was doing, because I maintained good eye contact as I spoke. I decided to try this during the real thing.

My Rotary Club Speech

When I got to the Rotary club, I set up my laptop on a chair in the front row. I’m pretty sure most of the audience never realized it was there. I kept the laptop at a distance, so I could glance at it throughout my speech as my eyes moved from person to person, making brief eye contact.

I found the Rotarians (yep, that’s what they’re called) incredibly welcoming. They engaged well with me as I delivered my speech. Afterward, I opened it up to questions. Because the speech went well, I felt confident as I answered them. It was the best speaking engagement I’ve ever had.

If you have to give a speech and usually rely on notes, I recommend giving this a try.  I know all the “cool” people are giving note-less speeches, but I would rather not chance freezing up, so I’d rather disrupt the rules of speech giving and bring in my laptop and mouse.

Do you like using notes or not?

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

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About Heather EricksonFacing Cancer as a Parent

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog about living with cancer at Facing Cancer with Grace.

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2 comments on “A Speech Tip if You are New to Public Speaking

Sounds like a good idea. I’m one to go note-less. I gave a 20 minute oral presentation in college note-less. But that’s my style. We all have to do what works best for us.

That’s awesome, Liz. Does being a teacher make public speaking easier for you? Kids seem like a tough audience, to begin with, and it’s so impromptu.

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