How to Read a Speech Someone Else Wrote (and Own It)
A while back, we wrote about how to write a speech for someone else. So we thought it was only fair to write about what to do with it once it’s done. Because we know you can’t leave an audience hanging. Kudos, by the way, for hiring a professional to choose the best words for you. Your audience will thank you as well. Now to complete the final step of hashing out a killer speech.
Read. Re-read. Repeat.
First, read the damn thing. Again and again. The writer took the trouble of writing it and making it sound like you, now you should make it sound great. Like you actually put time and effort in. You don’t want to be up on that podium reading off a piece of paper. It’ll be brutally obvious you didn’t prepare. And you’ll lose points for that. Ideally, you won’t need the paper up there with you at all. But it’s comforting to have the backup. So do what you must, just make sure you make sufficient eye contact so you’re actually talking to your audience and not the paper.
Know it well.
You don’t necessarily need to memorize even word verbatim. But you should know the content inside out so you can improvise if necessary. That way you come off more naturally and the words flow like conversation. You want people to hear you and listen. And if you sound unsure of yourself while stuttering to try to pronounce “poignant,” they’ll see you didn’t write it, left it until the last minute and couldn’t be bothered to go over the written material.
Make it yours.
Perhaps the person writing it didn’t have the time to get to know you and write it based on your own roster of words. Whatever the case, you can rework it a little to make it sound more like you. Replace a few of their words with ones you’d more likely use. You want it to feel natural to you. Make it that way and it’ll feel natural to your audience too.
Practise, practise, practise!
In case you didn’t get that last part, practise! Once you’ve got all the content you want, actually practise delivering your speech. With all the pauses, gestures, giggles, scoffs, tear wipes or whatever else is in there. Perhaps even do it in front of someone. Or in front of the mirror. That’s good because you can practise your posture and body language at the same time. Record yourself for timing. Then listen to it and see where you need to improve. Make sure timing flows naturally ¾ not too fast, not too slow. However best fits your tone and tempo when you’re having a conversation with someone.
And remember to smile and look your audience in the eye. Now, break a leg!