As fathers sometimes people think we have it all sussed, and you start to get asked those questions like “Will you be my best man?” Whether you have ever been asked to speak at a Christmas or retirement party, or even a wedding, the act of giving a speech can often be daunting, with many suffering sleepless nights at the mere thought of it – but everyone is capable of delivering a really good speech that you can be proud of.

By following Robin’s ten simple steps, you too will do yourself proud!

1. Start well

Here are two classic ways of grabbing the audience’s attention right from the start:

(i) Tell them something personal:

“X is most [generous/kind/loving etc.] person I’ve ever met. And I’m going to tell you why.”

(ii) Start in the middle of a story:

“Sixteen years ago, I was on holiday in Cornwall, when something very odd happened …”

2. Use your normal voice

Don’t be tempted to be too loud. Most people end up shouting – probably because we were all told to ‘speak up’ in class at school! Speak as if you were talking with a group of friends.

3. Use normal words

Overly formal words will make you sound and feel stiff. “I’m thrilled you’re here.” is so much better than “It now falls upon me to welcome so many distinguished guests on this auspicious occasion”.

4. It’s not about you

You don’t have to be a brilliant speaker, just remember to put yourself in the audience’s shoes. Why are they there? What do they really want to hear? And then tell them just that!

5. Don’t take yourself too seriously

When we listen to someone who takes themselves too seriously, we can’t wait for them to slip on the proverbial banana skin. A little self-deprecating humour goes a long way.

6. Wait two or three seconds before you start speaking

This will give you time to compose yourself and get the audience’s attention. You will look more nervous if you start speaking before you get settled – as if you just want the whole thing over with! So get to your position, breathe and then start speaking.

7. Don’t rush

A few moments before you’re due to speak, try breathing in through your nose very slowly for a count of three; then breathe out through your nose for a count of three. Repeat this three times. This should take you a total of 18 seconds. In that time you will have significantly lowered your heart rate and you won’t rush.

8. Clench your buttocks!

If you find yourself shaking remember that it’s almost physically impossible to shake if you clench your buttocks! It will also take any nervous tension away from your throat and so relax your voice. You only have to do this for the first 30 seconds or so – trust me it does work!

9. Smile!

Smiling changes the sound of your voice. I don’t mean a tight cheesy grin (which will tense your throat area) but a twinkle in the eyes. It will make you look like you are happy to be there.

10. End well

And finally, try coming back to the idea that you started with. Using the examples above you could try:

(i) “So that’s why X is most [generous/kind/loving etc.] person I have ever met.”

(ii) “So the next time you find yourself in Cornwall, you never know what might happen!”

The very best advice I can give is simply to be yourself and remember that when you give a speech, it is not about you. It should always be about your audience. You don’t have to be the best speaker in the world; you just have to make them feel special.

If these tips resonate with you, how about taking things to the next level with Robin Kermode’s Public Speaking Masterclass. The interactive half-day course will help you build your personal impact so that you learn to speak in public with confidence and charisma looking at the structure of what we say and how we say it; from speaking to larger groups through to networking events and 1-1 meetings. By dropping our public mask and learning to have a ‘conversation’ with our audience you will be able to connect with them every time. This exclusive Masterclass will be interactive, great fun and instantly actionable. A networking lunch is included.


About Robin Kermode

Robin Kermode is one of Europe’s leading communication coaches and works globally with senior political and business leaders. Robin is the founder of Zone2, a professional training and coaching consultancy and is a popular keynote speaker, a regular media commentator and author of the best-selling public speaking book Speak So Your Audience Will Listen – a practical guide for anyone who has to speak to another human being. Robin’s experience, enthusiasm and sense of humour make him a highly valued speaker and coach. For more information, visit