5 TRICKS to help you make a bril­liant speech

As a com­edy per­former, Emma Stroud honed her skills on how to own a room. Now she ad­vises ner­vous speak­ers through her own cour­ses. She shares her in­sight…

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - GH Special -


It may feel awk­ward – and 95% of my clients tell me they don’t like the sound of their own voice – but that’s ex­actly why you should prac­tise speak­ing out loud. You’ll get used to the sound of your voice, learn where to pause and what words to em­pha­sise, and it will be­gin to feel nor­mal. 2 FIND YOUR CON­FI­DENT STANCE Re­vert to this pose when­ever you feel your con­fi­dence wan­ing: place your feet hip-width apart, root your feet to the floor, open up your chest and lift up your head. It gives the il­lu­sion of con­fi­dence and makes you feel more au­thor­i­ta­tive.


The most en­gag­ing speak­ers have one thing in com­mon: au­then­tic­ity. Any­one can reel off facts or point at graphs, but au­di­ences are made up of peo­ple, and peo­ple con­nect with sto­ries. Your per­sonal story might be some­thing small or it could be huge, like some­thing you’ve over­come in your life, but it will be an in­sight into who you are.


It’s thought that the long­est an au­di­ence can con­cen­trate for is 18 min­utes. You should try to re­cap­ture their at­ten­tion be­fore it dwin­dles, so I say aim for the 10-minute mark. At that point, do some­thing dif­fer­ent – ask ques­tions, get them to move around in their seats or play a video. Al­ter­na­tively, struc­ture your speech into three sec­tions, keep­ing each one un­der 10 min­utes. 5 BELLY BREATH­ING TO CON­TROL YOUR VOICE The key to speak­ing at a good pace (not too fast) and at a nat­u­ral pitch is belly breath­ing. When we sit or stand, our habit is to breathe up in the chest, but you can re­train your­self with this ex­er­cise:

Fill your en­tire lung ca­pac­ity, breath­ing into both your belly and chest. Imag­ine your in­hala­tion is like fill­ing a glass with wa­ter, be­gin­ning from the low­est part of the belly and fill­ing to the top of the chest. Once you’ve taken this very big breath in, let it out on a big sigh of re­lief.

Return to your reg­u­lar breath­ing, notic­ing the rise and fall of the belly with your breath.

It’s eas­i­est to prac­tise belly breath­ing when ly­ing down. Take two min­utes be­fore you go to sleep and when you wake up, with your hands on your belly and your chest. Soon you’ll no­tice your­self breath­ing this way more nat­u­rally.

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