If you need to give a golf speech at your annual golfing dinner read on....
It's the Open - you need this putt for the title. You watch the ball and it seems to move in slow motion.Finally it drops into the hole. You've won! Theres's the applause, the presentation, the photos and the interviews...
It may not be The Open - perhaps a local tournament or a formal presentation where you need to say a few words in front of an audience. Most people will be frightened but why?
The likelihood is that you'll be talking about golf - something you know a lot about. Just remember that every speech needs a beginning, a middle and an end. Also remember that people often complain that speeches are too long......very few people complain that a speech is too short! There should be no problem with the content of your talk so let's look at the technicalities of how you say it. As with golf let's start with the basics.
First of all you need sound. If you don't move your arm you can't swing at your club - if you don't open your mouth you can't speak. This may seem obvious but if you watch people speaking you'll be surprised how many people try to speak with their mouth hardly open. The wider you open your mouth the more easily the sound can get out and it also helps you slow your golf speech down.
Nerves make all of us speak too quickly, we all need to slow down to let the audience have time to take in what has been said.
The sound needs to be directed towards the person or people you are talking to. You wouldn't direct a ball into the rough if you want it to land on the fairway - sound is the same, think of your words as golf balls and direct it where you want it to go.
Speech also needs breath. A long sentence needs more breath than a short sentence, just as a long drive needs more energy than a short putt. (Although still as much concentration). Breathing for speech is not a natural way of breathing and has to be learnt. When you breathe in your diaphragm flattens. The intercostal muscles, which are between the ribs, lift the ribs upwards and outwards. This increases the size of the chest allowing the lungs to fill with air. As the air gets used up the diaphragm returns to its normal position and the ribs return to their normal position. Be careful not to lift your shoulders or stick your head out as this will stop the air flow.
Each new idea or sentence should be started with vitality. As we say a sentence our voice generally gets quieter and quieter. Every sentence should be started on a higher note than the previous sentence ended on. As a golfer you know how important a good tee shot is - each new sentence needs just as good a beginning. If your previous shot was a disaster you should forget it and approach the next shot with renewed vigour. Each new hole is like a new paragraph and a round of golf is like your golf speech.
As a golfer you are taught the importance of a good stance and not surprisingly posture is as important in speech. The two most common problems are fidgeting and locked knees. Keep your hands still, nothing irritates an audience more than a fidgety speaker. If you lock your knees when you speak the muscles at the back of your knees will tighten and this will cause tension in your whole body thus restricting your breathing. Try to avoid standing like a soldier on parade, most people who are taught to stand very upright do not need to talk at the same time - dancers, gymnasts etc.
If you know what you want to say in your golf speech in advance, practice out loud. You can't improve your speaking skills by thinking about them just as you can't improve your golf by sitting in a chair thinking about it - you need to do it!
Practice in front of a mirror so you can check you are opening your mouth wide enough.
Correct clothing is essential for playing golf and it also plays an important part in our ability to speak well. If you've just come off the golf course you'll be wearing clothes that are comfortable and easy to move in. If, however, you're talking at a formal event you may be dressed in clothing that doesn't feel as comfortable.
Avoid tight collars with tighter ties and trousers that are just that little bit tighter than your golfing trousers. Breathing is bound to be difficult, as we have seen your lungs need room to expand and your vocal cords need room to vibrate. Your shoes may be nice and shiny but are they comfortable? Ladies are just as bad - necklaces, bracelets and earrings that are heavy and jangle every time you move. High heeled shoes that throw us off balance, making us stand awkwardly and consequently restrict our breathing and knock our confidence. Your clothes can be so uncomfortable that you're frightened to speak - perhaps even move!
You just need to loosen your tie, wear more delicate earrings and make sure your shoes are comfortable. If your feet are hidden from view - take your shoes off.
Listen carefully to any questions you may be asked - it makes answering them a lot easier. You can't strike a ball if you don't look at it, you can't answer if you don't listen.
Lastly, but most importantly, enjoy your golf speech. Forget about luck - you know what you're talking about and people are here to listen to you. As with golf - if you enjoy it you will perform well.
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