Speech - The Word
with Heather René Dunaway

Written by: Heather Dunaway
November 2023

Speech! Speech! Speech! Speech! Speech! Chant the masses.


If you have ever given one you have probably had one of two moods: You are excited and feel well prepared or you are nervous and trying to picture everyone doing something silly. 


I was recently invited to give a speech at Le Chat Noir for Arts Day, and when I say I was both…


Growing up I was really neutral about getting up in front of people. Maybe it was the big family life and all of us screaming over each other that normalized talking in front of crowds, maybe it’s my Leo energy. It wasn’t until college, when I was being graded to do it that I started getting nervous about it. On top of the Leo-ness I am also kind of a perfectionist. So, getting things just right is my vibe.


Now, working at the Arts Council I do interviews and speeches regularly but that nagging “gotta get this right for the grade” voice in the back of my mind is still there. So, instead of winging it like I used to do, I write it out. It’s a great way to organize your thoughts. Especially if you are like me and your thoughts tend to be a bit scattered and ramble-y. 


It def comes in handy when talking about your own work or an important topic you want to cover well. But, where to start? Starting is always my biggest hill to get over. Like, I know what I want to say, but what do I lead with? Right?

What I found works for me is starting with some notes. Maybe a few phrases you already had in mind. Then taking those notes and making an outline with bullet points. You should start with an introduction that outlines what the speech is about. List your key points in the opening. Then have a section for each of those key points and close with a wrap up of it all. This is usually my go to format. 



Cheese has been around for ages across many cultures. There is a pun in there somewhere. My favorite cheeses are gouda, cheddar and Swiss.


I love gouda because its good-a. 


Cheddar is great. Sorry, no cheesy jokes about it.


I don’t miss on the Swiss and neither should you.


To summarize, cheese is good. Pass the cheese, please. The end. 


Personally, in my speeches, I tend to include humorous anecdotes or dad-joke-intros to lighten the mood. I hate giving a speech to a somber crowd. It tends to make me feel more nervous so if I can lighten the room with a little “Where do cows go to get inspired? The art moo-seum.” then I will.


It’s also good to practice your speech out loud. This gives you the opportunity to find anything that might sound weird, is tongue-tier for you to say or that you want to add. It helps to do it in front of a trusted friend, to make it more comfortable to say in front of someone. I usually just do it in an empty room for myself. 


Really though, it’s whatever is going to make you most comfortable and help you to say what you want to say. Just don’t forget, if you are giving an Artist Talk or speech at an arts event, send me your press release and flyer so I can add it to our Community News Page, Calendar and newsletter!