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5 Simple Steps for Public Speaking

Giving a talk or presentation about animal rights? Follow these five steps to make sure you give an informative and effective speech every time.

Step 1: Research and Preparation

Consider the audience that you will be speaking to, and make sure that the tone and information is appropriate for that audience. Try to put yourself in their shoes, and think about what you want the outcome of your speech to be (e.g., to get people to go vegan or to adopt an animal instead of buying one).

Learn as much information as possible about the issue that your talk is about. You can also e-mail ATeam@peta.org for additional materials.

Step 2: Writing Your Speech

Before you begin writing, make a list of two to five main points that you want to present. Write out each point in one or two sentences.

Your speech will be most effective if you plan your opening and closing statements and key transitions down to the last word. Organize the speech logically with a beginning, a middle, and an end. In other words, tell your audience what you’re going to tell them, tell them it, and then summarize what you’ve told them.

Here are some other quick tips:

  • Open with an attention-getting fact, a rhetorical question (making sure that you know what the answer is), a quotation (to support your message), or a relevant anecdote.
  • Keep a positive tone and attitude.
  • Keep it short. Your speech should take less than 20 minutes.
  • Tell the audience what the problem is, what your proposed solution is, and what actions they can take to help.
  • Plan a snappy conclusion that summarizes your main points.
  • Finish with a strong and motivating appeal for action. Inspire your audience!

Step 3: Practicing

You should know your speech well enough to speak naturally during your presentation and glance only occasionally at your notes. Here are some tips for practicing:

  • Practice your speech at least three times, and practice in front of a friend for feedback.
  • Pace yourself. Your audience will want to hear what you have to say, so speak clearly!
  • Gestures, movement, and eye contact can add to your impact, but make sure that they’re natural and relevant.
  • Try not to speak from a podium. It’s a barrier between you and your audience. Put your notes on it, and then try to walk around.

Step 4: Putting Together Visual Aids

Visual aids are an important aspect of your speech and will help make unfamiliar and challenging material more accessible for your audience. PowerPoint presentations, photos, charts, and videos can all help you get your point across.

Keep the following in mind:

  • Visual aids should be simple and colorful, but remember that red and green are difficult to read from a distance.
  • Keep text to a minimum—otherwise your audience won’t know whether to read or to listen to you.
  • A few effective slides or charts can help your audience understand your message, but too many will distract them.
  • Videos are a powerful way to get your point across. Visit PETA’s YouTube page for some options.

Step 5: Handling the Q&A

A well-handled question-and-answer session can strengthen your credibility, demonstrate your knowledge, and give you a chance to clarify and expand on your ideas.

  • Make a list of possible questions that people might have about the material that you are presenting, and prepare answers to those questions.
  • Check out PETA’s frequently asked questions for a list of common questions and answers.
  • If someone is being aggressive or antagonistic, simply say, “I’d be happy to talk with you about this in greater depth afterward, but I have limited time and need to address additional questions.” Don’t let anyone take control of the presentation.

Now that you know how to prepare a speech, it’s time to get started. Where will you give your first public presentation? E-mail the Action Team to discuss possible venues!

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