By Gavin Meikle

Delivering a prepared speech can be nerve-racking enough. The thought of being put on the spot to give a short speech without any preparation or advance warning can seem to some people like their worst nightmare.

Other people cope remarkably well with these situations so what can we learn from them?

Well for a start they know that every speech, even if its a short one or two minute impromptu one, needs a good structure. A beginning that grabs the audience's attention, an ending which wraps up the speech clearly and a middle which supports the main points.

Another thing they know is how important delivery is. Not only for winning over the audience, but also for managing their own nerves. The key is to behave as if you were feeling confident and confidence will come. So how do you do this.

Delivery tips:

1) Step up - When asked to speak, smile and step forward confidently

2) Stand — Before you start to speak pause for a second and look out at your audience

3) Smile — It will relax both you and the audience

4) Speak — Begin your speech clearly and confidently. A good tip is to repeat the question or topic you have been assigned. This buys you a few extra seconds of thinking time and allows you to get your brain in gear.

5) Stay still — Don’t dash off as soon as you have finished speaking. , Stay standing confidently and either enjoy the applause or ask for questions

Use the PREP model

● Position — Start by stating your position on the topic — do you agree or disagree?

● Reason - Now expand on that by explaining why you hold this view. How can you justify it? What evidence supports it? What alternatives did you consider and why did you dismiss them?

● Example(s) — Tell; a story or give a short case study that exemplifies the position you are taking. Stories are great for turning abstract ideas into tangible examples that your audience can understand.

● Position/Proposition — End by restating your position confidently and authoritatively. Some people are good at coming up with a powerful and clever closing quote but if inspiration escapes you try a simple “and so I believe ….” and repeat your position. Alternatively you can incorporate a call to action and propose that your audience do something, which makes for an even stronger conclusion.