Communicators and Leaders: what does the New Year hold for you and your associates?    There are various occasions offering opportunities to display public speaking prowess. As an award(s) presenter, you will need to know what the award stands for, the profound tradition associated with it, and why the recipient was chosen to receive the award. Highlight the value of the recognition and the beneficiary. Maybe you will receive an award during the new-year; in that case, prepare your acceptance speech with thoughtfulness and humbleness.

Formally called a Speaker Introduction, the powers that be might ask you to introduce a conference, employee gathering, seminar speaker; or another event where an introducer is required. What do you do? Use humor and be graceful. Generally, a 20-minute speech calls for a 2-3 minute introduction. While this isn’t a rule per se, you don’t want to upstage the speaker by going more than three minutes. Make the audience aware of the speaker’s background and expertise on the subject matter; and include tidbits about the speaker’s organization, education, and family, if appropriate. If a Question and Answer session follows the speech, include this information in your introduction. Mention the speech title toward the end of your prelude in conjunction with the speaker’s name. A copy of the speaker introduction should be in possession of the introducer and the speaker or their assistant.

Are you delivering a wedding toast during the new-year? All eyes will be on you. Begin by introducing yourself and your relationship to the newly wedded couple. Speak in a normal voice and use humor in good taste. Reminisce a positive story about the bride and/or groom. Occasionally, glance at the audience but focus on the bride and groom. Practice the toast in front of someone. Time-wise, the toast should be 3-4 minutes or shorter. If you are easily influenced by alcohol, do not offer a toast, even better, refrain from intoxicating beverages at the event and throughout the big day.

What about holiday toasts? Stand while toasting. Physical limitations are the only exception. In that regard, if assistance, if needed, inform the event planner or ask an audience member for help. A little is good, but don’t humiliate or insult anyone and refrain from telling off-color jokes. Be uplifting and positive. Mention the season and the holiday, as well as stating the significance and what if means to you. Speak from the heart and focus on the special occasion. Remember, don’t apologize for having a cold, getting emotional, forgetting your lines. You need not apologize for anything. Inquire about appropriate attire. You don’t want to show up at the holiday event wearing casual clothes when everyone else is in dressy attire. Is the audience family and friends, prominent community attendees, staff, management? Do a little research. Having this type of knowledge will help in delivering an excellent holiday toast.

Do you have a goal to become a better public speaker during the New Year? However, you’re not a fan of public speaking? Surveys and research reveal that three out of every four individuals suffer from general speaking anxiety; that’s 75 percent. I am here to tell you; there is hope for even the most frightful. Some essential tips: Research your speech topic. Familiarize yourself with the content. Practice and get feedback. The speech should have three main parts – opening, body (main content), and conclusion. Review the historical significance of organization and venue. Seek help from local organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Toastmasters.

The new year and, for that matter, the new decade might offer a job change. As job interview advice, I suggest: Increase your chances as the selected candidate by researching the shortlist of companies before submitting your resume. Learn about the dress code, culture, the management team, and the company role in society. Speak with employment experts and other professionals. A mock interview would give you the opportunity to correct your weaknesses and highlight your strengths. Arrive early at the interview site. Walk with a purpose in the reception area and to the interview room. Speak in formal terms as opposed to casual talking. Turn off your phone and put it away. Don’t chew gum or display nervous habits. Come as well-prepared.

What if you are slated to give a speech outdoors? Outdoor occasions such as dedications, weddings, commemorations, commencement, and other celebrations allow the speaker to make inspiring and poignant remarks. Give recognition to the venue, note stately buildings, and/or beautiful foliage, the well-manicured lawn. Your appearance should give formality to the event. The attention of outdoor audiences is short; your remarks should be brief as well. In other words, dress professionally. Be mindful of the weather, and dress accordingly. Great speakers make great leaders. Great leaders are great speakers. Greatness comes from a higher power. Using the above tips and suggestions, I am sure you will be a confident, eloquent, and gracious speaker and leader for years to come.

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