I train people who are giving presentations and awards and one of the first things I do (after finding out who we need to thank etc.) is time how long their speech is and how/where it fits into the running sheet. This is especially true when I get people ready for race day presentations. A key part of my job is to edit the speech as much as possible. When people are at a cocktail party, dinner or presentation night, they are there to drink, talk and hob nob, not to stand around being bored to death by formalities. Yesterday's Melbourne Cup was a case in point. During the Melbourne Cup presentations, the Governor-General decided it was time for a long speech waxing lyrical about the Aussie spirit. Well meaning but it was excruciating to watch and went on and on and on and on. Behind her, people were fidgeting, the crowd was just ignoring her and it was embarassing to watch her present a speech that someone had obviously spent ages writing. Sorry GG, but there is a time and a place. Boot camp for delivering speeches to rowdy crowds:
1. During training, I like to make lots of distracting noise while my client is delivering his/her speech to get them used to a tough crowd.
2. I get clients to practice trying to get the attention of the room. (Often we plan for another person to do this dirty work before the speaker makes his/her start.)
3. We break the speech down into chunks and if the crowd is really out of hand, we cut out a piece.
4. Run through the choreography of the presentations, handing out fake awards, cups and certificates to that it looks easy
5. Be absolutely ruthless about timing, ensuring that it is undertime everytime.
6. Ensure that the speech acknowledges and connects with the crowd.