Guest Speaker's Speech to Adult Group or Club
Most of the times in our lives when we are required to “say a few words” we’re doing so because of the role we have to play in the proceedings of that day – as the groom, the proud parent or the grieving relative. Coming in as a guest speaker is something else entirely – your only reason for being there is to speak – so it calls for a rather different approach.
While it isn’t the easiest job to do, remember you’ve presumably been asked because you have something interesting to say; the trick is to find an interesting way to say it!
First Things FirstIf there was ever a need to plan a speech carefully, write it out and rehearse it thoroughly, then it’s this one. Whether you’re speaking to a specialised gathering who share a knowledge of your subject, or setting out to bring something new to the group, however well you know your topic, make sure you’ve thought through what you want to say.
Decide on the main points or areas that you want to cover; this may depend a little on the amount of time available for your talk, but don’t try to cram too much in. Aim to deliver just three points – and whatever you do, never more than five!
Speaking to a camera club about successful wildlife photography, for example, you might decide that the important points you want to get across are (1) the need to understand the plant or animal that you’re trying to photograph (2) the importance of being really familiar with your equipment and (3) some of the difficulties you mightn’t be aware of until you’ve tried to take pictures of small, nervous animals in the pouring rain – or large, belligerent ones either, for that matter!
1. Getting StartedNo matter how fascinating your topic, or genuinely interested your audience, you need a good opening to kick things off – and you’ll lose them faster than anything if you don’t have one. For this kind of speaking, it’s perfectly acceptable to just jump in without the usual round of thanks to the group for asking you to speak – though if you do use this approach, it’s good form to say thank you at the end!
- Start with a quotation or make a bold statement – though obviously nothing too controversial
- Begin with your “closing statement” – and let them wonder what you’re going to say to get back there
- Pose an intriguing question or dilemma
2. Making The Main PointsOnce you have grabbed the attention of the group, now’s the time to elaborate on your theme with a few supporting stories or facts to back up the main points.
- Keep things simple; good speaking is about getting your message across, not trying to make yourself look clever; remember, a little humour is always welcome
- Don’t labour things; even if the group isn’t expert in the particular field, they won’t thank you for seeming patronising
- Adult audiences are usually polite and patient, but always be on the lookout for the glassy-eyes of boredom! If you think you’re starting to lose them, perhaps it’s time to move on to the next point.
3. Closing On A HighA good ending is what makes a talk really memorable, so try to make it snappy and relevant.
- End on a positive note
- Resolve any questions you may have posed
- Say any necessary thank-yous
Well done; you’ve finished and everyone’s intrigued – now take a deep breath and stand by to answer their stream of animated questions!