At times, most speakers read through the outline silently a few times and think they are all set for a delivery. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you have not practiced your speech aloud several times, most likely you are not prepared to speak. There is a great difference between reading about how to deliver an effective speech and actually doing it. The only way to convert what you have read into what you can do is to practice it. Keep in mind that your objective is to sound confident and be natural – just like talking to friends. If you have been envisioning yourself giving a successful speech, you have taken a crucial first move towards confident delivery.

Good or bad speeches are a matter of habit. Habits are formed and developed through constant practice. Feeling confident while speaking is one of the advantages of practicing.

The best outcomes are achieved if you prepare in two ways:

  1. By envisioning yourself giving an effective and successful speech, and,
  • By actually practicing your speech aloud.

Here are pointers when practicing your speech;

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Response to Audience Questions

The key to successful question-and-answer periods is to actually know your topic and expect questions from the audience. One of the most frustrating things about speaking is having to eliminate so much vital information (both personal and research-based) from your speech because of time constraints. But, if you are preparing a question-and-answer period to go with your speech, it is almost impossible to know everything about your topic. The more you know, the better your answers will be.

Besides knowing your topic, expect several questions that you think your audience may ask and prepare one or two visual aids to use when answering these questions. Before preparing entirely new visuals, see if one or more overlays (for instance, one with a line graph that contains new information) could be included to a visual that you want to use in your speech. The overlays would be used only during the question-and-answer period. Certainly, it’s always possible that none of these questions will be asked. But just in case, you can impress your audience tremendously.

The following suggestions may help you with your question-and-answer period. If you conduct audience questions well, you can make your message more convincing.

  • Listen attentively to each question asked.
  • If appropriate, repeat the question before answering it so that everyone can hear it and keep track of what is going on.
  • Rephrase any confusing or negative questions in a clear and positive way.
  • Think a moment before answering each question. If you don’t know the answer, say so, and refer the questioner to someone in the audience who does know. Or, tell the person that it’s a good question and that you will find the answer and let that person know in the next meeting.
  • Do not allow one person to dominate the forum period.
  • If you think a question is irrelevant or will take too long to answer, thank the person for the question and mention that you will talk with that individual personally about it after the period.
  • Don’t try to fake your way through a response.
  • Don’t argue or get angry or defensive while answering questions. What you say during the question-and-answer period will influence the audience’s overall judgment of your credibility and your speech.
  • If appropriate, actively encourage listeners to participate.
  • If you expect a hostile audience, avoid a question-and-answer period in any way possible. If not, mention in your introduction that there will be a short question-and-answer period at the end of your speech and ask the audience to write out questions during the speech. After your initial conclusion, collect the questions, select three or four good ones, and answer them – ignoring the less desirable ones.
  • Watch your time, and end the period with a final conclusion that refocuses audience attention and puts a pleasing closure on your speech.


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