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Do You Really Want to Make That Speech?

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 23 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Speech Speaker Confident Event Audience

So, you’ve been asked to make that speech and yes, you’re right, it is a great honour, a prestigious event and a chance to shine before your friends and family – but for all that, you’re not entirely sure that you really want to do it.

Saying “yes” to any invitation to speak – whether it’s to give a quick and fairly informal talk to a small group, or to a much bigger audience at some major event – is a serious commitment, even if you’re a naturally confident speaker.

For anyone who is a little less readily inclined to step into the limelight, it’s only reasonable to take a moment or two to ask yourself if you really do want to make that speech.

Well, do you, or don’t you? Try this quick quiz to help you decide.

1. When you were first asked to speak, what thought immediately popped into your head?

  • a) OK.
  • b) Brilliant!
  • c) Oh no!

2. If someone told you that the event had been cancelled, what would be your instant reaction?

  • a) OK
  • b) Oh no!
  • c) Brilliant!

3. What does being a good speaker mean to you?

  • a) Being clear, short and interesting.
  • b) Entertaining the audience.
  • c) Getting it over with – preferably without being sick!

4. You call your speech a success when:

  • a) Someone I respect tells me they enjoyed it.
  • b) There’s lots of applause at the end.
  • c) I’m not actually sick.

5. What would be your worst nightmare as a speaker?

  • a) I forget something important, or stumble over my words.
  • b) There isn’t much applause at the end.
  • c) I actually am sick.

6. Would your friends say that you can tell a joke?

  • a) I think so.
  • b) Yes, definitely
  • c) No, certainly not!

7. If you had to pick just one, which is your favourite way of communicating?

  • a) Telephone
  • b) Face-to-face
  • c) Email

8. Finally, you’ve been asked to help at a charity auction and there are three jobs to be filled.

Starting with the one you’d like MOST, put them in your order of preference.
  • a) Sell raffle tickets, help with the catering, be the auctioneer
  • b) Be the auctioneer, sell raffle tickets, help with the catering
  • c) Help with the catering, sell raffle tickets, be the auctioneer


Mostly (a)s – Do you really want to make that speech? Well, mostly – but you’re a little more nervous than you’d like to be about it all. The trick for you is to prepare your speech really thoroughly, do plenty of practice runs and then try it out in front of a few people you can really trust to give you constructive feedback. That way, you’ll get the feel of a good dress rehearsal in front of a small, select audience and the opportunity to polish it up perfectly before the day.

Mostly (b)s – Should you do it? Oh yes! Deep down you know you really want to, but most of what you’re feeling right now can be put down to perfectly understandable nerves and even seasoned speakers suffer with them from time to time! Just give yourself enough time to write the speech you know you can, and then practise it until you can do it standing on your head – you’ll be fine. Like they say, “it’ll be alright on the night.”

Mostly (c)s – Oh dear, you really don’t want to do this speech, now do you? Well, first of all, don’t feel bad about that – public speaking certainly isn’t for everyone and it may surprise you to know that very few people really are ‘naturals’ at it. Most of us have to work at overcoming some degree of stage-fright – even if your own version feels more like out-and-out terror! Remember speeches don’t have to be long, they don’t have to be super-clever and there’s no rule that says they have to be rip-roaringly funny, so before you finally politely decline the invitation to speak, you might want to have a quick look around this site for inspiration. There’re lots of ideas and examples here you can ‘steal’ wholesale, if you do decide you’re going to go for it, after all.

Good luck with that speech!

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