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Preparing for English GCSE Speaking Oral Test – Preparing for a speech

With the English Oral 20% of your GCSE, you must know the keys ways in which to perform and prepare a great speech to gain you extra marks. The oral, if you don’t know already, consists of two stages, the speech and the discussion.

Now, the discussion is just as important as the speech as they mark you out of 20 for both the speech and discussion after.

I’m assuming that you will have your speech written out already and now looking for ways to prepare yourself for the speech. The interesting thing is that you could have created a brilliant speech, but delivered it terribly. How you deliver the speech is crucial.

Before the Speech – Preparing
Preparing for the speech before hand can help with nerves. To prepare yourself physically, you should:

  • Keep saying your speech to yourself – This is obvious, as like with everything, the more you revise, the more prepared you will be.
  • Sleep – A good night sleep before the speech will help relax you, and will help you the following day to concentrate on the key points you want to emphasise in your speech.
  • Eat a light meal before the speech – If not, have a snack, anything to make you feel comfortable. If your thinking about how hungry you are, your not thinking of the speech! Carbonated drinks are also a bad idea as there may be a chance of you belching.
  • Drink warm tap water – The warm water will soothe your throat so there will be no need for coughing.
  • Arrive early – Arriving early is a great way once again to help prepare and go over your speech.

So, you’ve prepared for your speech, now what are you to do in the actual speech? To get high marks you should:

  • Give eye contact – Although most students will be reading from cue cards, every now and then try to give eye contact to make the listeners feel part of the speech and connected to you.
  • Gestures – These help paint a picture for the listeners and make the whole speech feel A LOT more natural. However, don’t force gestures, they will come naturally in different sections of your speech.
  • Enthusiasm – This is key to high grades. If your not enthusiastic about the speech, why should anyone else be?  
  • Pause – As well as making your speech more dramatic, it can help with your breathing. Most people when nervous tend to rush their speeches as they want it to be over as soon as possible. Pauses can help you slow the pace down to normal.
  • Posture – The way you sit or stand when performing the speech can give different images. Stand or sit or straight or maybe even lean forward to show your interested will give others the impression your confident: something you will be marked upon.
  • Language – Use proper language. I’m not talking about proper English, just don’t stutter or say ‘um’, ‘er’, ‘like’ or ‘yeah’. You can easily replace ‘like’ with ‘for example’ and if you feel like your going to say one of the others, just pause: you will be marked for emphasizing.
  • Smile, be positive – Not only will smiling make you feel and look better, it will make your audience more receptive.

With the discussion, you can use the following techniques above as well. However, it is very important not to interrupt anyone while they are speaking as firstly, that’s rude and you will be marked down. Also, invite people into the discussion. For example, ‘yes I totally agree, what’s your views on this matter _____?’

Most importantly, give up the belief that you are perfect. The majority of people are afraid of speaking due to the fear of embarrassment from making mistakes in front of each other. Anxiety over mistakes will only cause you to make even more mistakes. The secret to overcoming anxiety is if you do make mistakes, learn to accept them and move on. You don’t want mistakes being a obstacle to success. 


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