Annual Conference is a key part of the policy process within the Labour Party where CLP Delegates get to speak to the motions passed by the CLP before the whole party. If you are selected to be a delegate for Labour International this article will help you prepare.
Planning Your Speech
Dig deep. Do research to understand your topic and extract the essence of your talk. Keep it simple. Have a clear purpose of your speech in mind. Your speech should have one key goal. Write the title of your speech at the top of any paper you are using.
Know your audience.
Are you speaking to people who know nothing about your topic or people who are experts on your topic? Understanding your audience will help you to target your speech appropriately.
Your speech is for your audience, not for yourself.
Writing the Speech
- Write a single-sentence that will immediately grab the audience’s attention.
- Then free write first
- Refine your ideas and put them in order.
- Use an anecdote or a quote. Sometimes, someone else has already said it better than you ever will.
- Write like you talk. A speech is meant to be spoken, not read.
- Use short words. Write short sentences.
- Choose 3 to 5 concise supporting points for your topic.
- Fact check your ideas.
- Write As If You Are talking to one person.
- The average number of words for a 5 minute speech is 650,and 390 for 3 minutes, and 270 for a 2 minute speech.
- Keep your speech to the point.
- You can use index cards with bullet points.
Consider your comfort level.
- If you know the topic well, then make notes or write down buzzwords to remind you of what you want to say. If you don’t, write the speech in full.
- Pace your speech.
- Have three main points to get across.
- Condense your speech down to just bullet-point notes.
- Bullet points will keep you on track.
- If you are nervous, write the first three sentences out in full. This will help you stay focused.
- Make it personal. Connect on a personal level with your audience. Don’t be afraid to allow emotion to enter into your voice if appropriate.
- Tell a story. Facts, figures and statistics will quickly lose your audience. One stat may be fine to reinforce a point. but if you want to create a memorable presentation tell a memorable story.
Practicing Your Speech
This applies whether you have five days notice or 30 seconds. Look at the conference agenda. Choose ones that you think you might want to speak on and practice, practice, practice! Ideally you can plan everything you want to say, and rewrite over and over.
- Set a timer. You should know how long your speech needs to be. If you can’t deliver the speech within the given amount of time, then you may need to shorten it or lengthen it.
- Practice your speech in front of a friend or a mirror. Practice looking up at your audience so that your eyes aren’t always on your notes.
- Practice speaking slowly and clearly. Time yourself. Cut out any bits that are unnecessary.
- Lead with wow – a compelling or controversial position.
- Pause between the sections of your speech and change the pace – some bits faster, other bits slower.
- Mark up your speech as you go with a pen or pencil. Mark words you want to stress – underline or in a different colour.
- Make a video recording. Record yourself as you make the speech. Analyze your appearance, your body language and your delivery.
Delivering your speech
- Be Your Passionate Self. Audiences are perceptive. They can even sense enthusiasm from the back seats.
- Be authentic. Just speak from the heart. Sharing a personal story can help you find your voice and build a connection with the audience.
- Look around the audience, or if you are nervous, just focus on one person.
- Make eye contact with members of your audience.
- Don’t always look down at your notes
- Focus on one friendly face at a time. Think of your speech as a conversation that you’re having with one person.
- Speak slowly and try to breathe normally. The natural adrenaline rush that you will have in front of your audience may make you want to speak much too quickly.
- Turn Nervousness Into a Boost. An adrenaline rush can work in your favour. Try to stop thinking about yourself, your nervousness, and your fear. Instead, focus on your audience. Concentrate on the audience’s wants and needs, instead of your own.
- If time allows, use deep breathing exercises to slow your heart rate and give your body the oxygen it needs to perform.
- Laugh at yourself if something goes wrong. If you forget your speech, then simply say thank you and leave the stage.
- Never leave the stage if something goes wrong, even if you feel embarrassed.
- Make a joke and shake it off, and move forward.
- Don’t do what Theresa May did and ignore the letters falling off her backdrop! Make a joke about it.