Public Speaking Occasion

This lesson will prepare a solid foundation for your speech and assist your confidence in your own public speaking abilities. It will also ensure that you avoid one of the most common mistakes when delivering a speech, the mistake of omission.

The nature of the occasion will obviously have a great bearing on your speech. The occasion will dictate not only the content of your speech, but also the duration, the tone, and the expectations of your audience. For example, humor may be inappropriate during a business presentation or a eulogy, while it may be welcome during a wedding speech, or a sports event. You should also be aware of your role and any observances that you should make during your speech (For example, a Best Man ought to close his speech with a toast to the Bride and Groom).

Digging deeper, The Occasion is fairly self-explanatory, or so we think. But you should never stand in front of a large group of people and make a speech based on assumptions. The very first thing we must get to know before speaking in public is the occasion itself.

Perhaps you think you know the occasion and are tempted to skip to the next chapter. It's a best man speech, what else is there to know? you may ask. Let's have a closer look.

You've been asked to be the Best Man of a good friend who you know through work. You start thinking about the guy you know though the office, the joker, the work-related social gatherings you've attended. You figure you've got some great material for your speech. But, you think smartly, it's time to find out if there is more to the occasion. Aspects to his life of which you are not aware. You contact the groom's sister and ask whether there is anything to consider. Yes, she tells you, their mother has a grave illness and will not be able to attend the wedding. Also, the groom's brother is serving overseas and also not be able to attend the wedding.

Suddenly a simple best man speech has become something completely different. It is a bittersweet occasion due to the absence of close family. There is also serious illness in the family. You also realize that you have likely been asked to be best man due to the absence of a brother in patriotic duty overseas.

You have an idea. You contact the groom's sister and ask if she thinks the family would object to you featuring a message, a recorded message, from the groom's absent brother as part of your best man speech. She loves the idea!

The point being of course, that a speech is never just a speech. There is always an occasion, and labels such as wedding, retirement, eulogy do not constitute an occasion while marriage of childhood sweethearts, retirement of much loved lifelong company man whose grandson has just joined the firm and eulogy for first generation immigrant, mother of four and grandmother of eleven certainly are occasions.

Knowing this distinction, and taking the time and care to do your research, set you on the road to a very special, memorable speech.


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Sample speeches

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