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Jerry Seinfeld once joked that since opinion polls show that more people are afraid of public speaking than they are of dying, that must mean that at a funeral most people would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy. I have never had such a fear, I was twice named “Orator of the Year” by my parliamentary colleagues, as well as “Parliamentarian of the Year”. Coming from the third party at the time I’m proud of that, because it means colleagues in other parties would have had to support me.and explaining issues with passion, humour, and information is what I love to do. Speaking in public can be a knee knocking, stomach flipping experience, but it gets better practice. And remembering certain basic ideas helps a lot. Speeches have to be about something, and they are better when they’re about something you know and care about. Say what you’re going to say, say it, and then say you’ve said it. Humour helps a ton, so do personal examples that connect with the audience. For the most part, I’ve stopped using notes, except as an outline, or a few quotes or examples. DO NOT READ a speech, because people would rather look at your eyes and face than your forehead. Speaking publicly is just that – speaking. It’s an act of engagement, that is different from reading. Tele-prompters can make it look as if you’re not reading, although in my view they can still be a barrier between the speaker and the audience. Don’t try to be Winston Churchill, John Kennedy, or Barack Obama. Find the language and cadence that suits you, and comes from you. Churchill used to write out his speeches like poems, and memorized much of the content. Kennedy and Obama used brilliant speechwriters, practiced the speech a lot (practice, practice, practice) and so look at the audience. But I still prefer no text, and usually no power point, although a picture can be worth a thousand words. Power point has become a crutch and a diversion, and can in fact take away from the power and focus of your message. The written word and the spoken word are different. A speech, or a lecture, should be more like a conversation, although can’t ramble or sound lazy. Don’t “wing it”. If you don’t have any message, or theme, or central idea, it’s better to listen to someone else. Speeches can move us, touch us, life us up and make us laugh. Find your voice, work at it, and make it happen. – Bob Rae