So you've decided to run for a student council office. You want to be freshman class president. On Friday you and all the other candidates will stand in an auditorium before the student body and each present a three-minute speech on why you should be elected. Your task is to give a speech that will help you stand out in the crowd and win the election.
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Write on a sheet of paper the major points that explain why you want to be elected. Most voters have self-interest in mind when they choose their leaders, so be prepared to say how your election will benefit them.
Reduce your list of ideas to the two or three strongest issues. Once you've determined your main topics, the body of your speech will be pretty well outlined. According to a Scholastic.com panel of political speechwriters, people don't retain much of what they hear in a speech. So pick your major points and present them in order of importance. For example, you might explain how you will week to improve the cafeteria, what you plan to seek to change about the dress code and what new clubs you want to start.
Write a strong opening statement. Toastmasters, an international organisation that fosters public speaking, teaches that an opening "hook" can make the audience yours. It might be a joke, a question or a declarative sentence, but it should lead naturally to the points you want to make.
Refer back to your main points and finish your speech with a call to action. For example, you might say, "I promise you, fellow freshmen, more choices on the salad bar, the right to wear screen-print T-shirts and new uniforms for the chess club. Vote for me!"
Write your speech in a conversational tone. Remember you'll be giving a speech, not reading a report. Keep your sentences short and write them the way you would say them. Do not write, "I am your best choice for class president." Instead write, "I'm the president you need and here's why." Write your speech on paper or on a computer and read it repeatedly to get ready to know it by heart.
Write cues and major points on index cards. Limit these to one idea per card. Practice giving the speech in front of a mirror. Listen to yourself say the words and make changes if you need to so your speech sounds natural. Practice making eye contact with your audience by looking at yourself in the mirror. Look at the cards only enough to keep yourself on track. When you're comfortable with your delivery, rehearse your speech in front of family or friends and ask for their feedback. Practice every day and you'll be ready to give a winning speech when the time comes to speak to the voters.
Tips and warnings
- Count to three, smile, and then start presenting your speech.
- Do not talk too fast. While you're rehearsing, concentrate on keeping a clear, understandable pace.
- Look at the left, right and centre of your audience as you speak. You want everyone there to feel you're talking to them.
- Ending by saying "thank you." People like to be thanked and it provides an obvious ending point.
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