Many high schools around the world will organise public speaking competitions for their students. Indeed, there are often outside competitions that bring students from many schools together to test their public speaking skills. All students will have a prepared speech to deliver. Then during the competition, they will be required to give a short notice speech on one of a number of topics. Usually, they are given time, equal in length to the speech, away from the auditorium to prepare.
This article looks at how a student might organise the speech and what strategies he/she might use in the speech.
How to get organised:
Remember it is a speech. It needs an introduction which grabs the audience’s attention. It needs a body that develops one main point. As a general rule, you need three minutes to develop one point. Lastly, it needs a conclusion that links to your opening.
Your speech needs a theme to link it together. Decide on it quickly. Having a theme and a good opening allows your subconscious to work ahead of what you are actually saying. Therefore, your speech will seem fluent and well thought out to your audience.
It is best if it contains personal experiences because no one knows your story so any omissions or mistakes don’t exist. Therefore, it is easy to create an emotional appeal to get your audience involved.
Strategies you could use:
There are many you might use. The first group of suggestions would be useful particularly for beginners or those in junior high school. They are:
- How, when, where, why, what, who about your topic
- Tracing your theme through the past; the present and the future
- Looking at the theme through the eyes of a child, a teenager and an adult
- By relating it to current events
- Looking at it locally, regionally, nationally and internationally
- Personal story
The following suggestions would give older students greater scope to show their prowess. They are:
- Social, political, economic
- Personal beliefs
- Yes/no argument
- Cause and effect
- Failure and success
- Relate your speech to current affairs
Remember to stress that the title of the speech must draw the student to the theme he/she might develop which should then lead to the selection of one of the above strategies. If the mind clogs up, then the student should quickly revert to a personal story or experience.
Finally, might I just share with you my own experience in a short notice speaking competition? I had to select a title out of hat. All I got was a piece of paper with a dot in the middle of it. At first, I thought it was a mistake but I was already losing planning time. Therefore, being a Maths teacher and recently introducing the concept of a point, I discussed this issue as the theme in my speech. I related the difference between a point in geometry and in normal everyday speech. The piece of paper I got for the speech was, in fact, a dud but the speech still succeeded. It just showed a mistake can be the makings of a good, short notice speech.