Online Public Speaking

Training & Practice

Special Events - Part 2 of 2

Now, on occasion, there will be multiple speakers presenting on the same subject. There may be more than one speaker tasked with honoring the same event or person on the same night. This can result in presenter after presenter coming up to talk about more or less the same subject. This can be an extra challenge for the speaker and the audience alike.

For example, a recent show on television celebrating Eddie Murphy featured speaker after speaker coming up to explain why each speaker thought Eddie was great. It didn’t take long for the event to run out of gas. While many people find Eddie funny and successful, people don’t have the attention span for hearing about it again and again.

If you have to speak as part of a lineup, we recommend three very important things on top of all you have learned elsewhere in Pspeak.

First, keep it short. Next, work extra hard to find a unique “angle” on the subject that the other speakers aren’t going to cover. You should even try getting in touch with the other presenters BEFORE the day of the event to make sure you’re not all going to say the same things.

This way you won’t find yourself walking to the podium freaking out because the person before you just said the same things you’re about to say. If this unfortunate scenario does happen, spin it by saying something along the lines of “As Sharon just said, the most important thing tonight is…” then say what you were going to say in as brief a manner as you can without making it too short. You don’t want to be the person who said the same thing in the most boring fashion, either!

Lastly, if you’re one of several speakers in a row, be extra sure to make acknowledgements. For example, say “thank you” and remember to recognize those who deserve recognition. There’s nothing worse than forgetting to say those things and the next person getting up and blowing everyone away with how gracious they are. We really can’t overstate this last one. This happens, a lot, leaving the previous speaker feeling red in the face that they didn’t acknowledge everyone like the next speaker did.

Next up for your special event speech, limit the personal connections. One major blunder occurs when the speaker gets up and drones on about something that’s only interesting to the SPEAKER. People often tell what they think is a heartwarming story to the audience but not realize that the audience may not really find the content particularly interesting.

For example, be careful of telling potentially boring-to-others stories like “Jane and I used to spend a lot of time together. She made this great soup, I think it was clam chowder. We’d have clam chowder, a glass of wine, then talk for hours. Some days we’d go for bike rides, too.” You run the risk of someone in the back of the room standing up and shouting WHO CARES?!

Well, maybe that won’t happen, but they’re probably thinking it. If you are going to tell a personal story, make sure it’s interesting to others. Even then, don’t make it all about your relationship with those you are speaking about. After a while it can start to sound like you think your relationship with them is more important than the relationship they have with others. That’s not a good message to send to the audience.

Next, practice a LOT. Especially here in the Pspeak live practice area since there are others trained to be good listeners and to give constructive feedback. You really want the audience to feel something about the subject in a special event speech. Therefore, getting feedback about whether you’re accomplishing the goal of getting your audience to feel something is very helpful.

You can also practice your speech on others around you. They’ll give you feedback about how your words sound to them, which will help you gauge how your words will affect others in the audience.

Lastly, let your emotions work for you. Welcome some emotions or nerves when the time comes. In other settings, being over-excited, edgy, or nervous might not be as acceptable, such as in a serious class or a business setting.

But for many special event speeches, some excess energy is not only welcome, it’s expected and it can help the audience feel what you feel.

The teary-eyed bridesmaid speech. The emotional award acceptance speech. The rowdy championship celebration speech. These are examples of times it’s better to have some extra emotion to draw on and share with the audience!

To conclude, those are some specific things we recommend when giving your next special event presentation. We wish you good luck!