Most of my YouTube or television watching centres around cooking; not shows like Food Network challenges, Top Chef or Guy’s Grocery Games. Rather, I enjoy the shows where the hosts demonstrate the preparation of specific dishes. I want to watch Tyler Florence prepare Chicken Paillard or Micheal Smith make no-knead bread and then try the recipe myself.
That’s the essence of a demonstration speech. You demonstrate an activity and then get your audience committed to trying the activity.
A demonstration speech is the “how to” of public speaking. It can be more difficult to present than any other type of speech. If something goes wrong, it can slow down the entire speech or bring it to a halt. While the fundamentals of preparing and giving any good speech are important, there are additional considerations for the demonstration speech.
When preparing and presenting a demonstration speech, you need to think like a Food Network Star.
Know Your Topic
They don’t pick just any old person off the street to host a cooking show; unless it’s the street where Giada lives. The chefs and cooks demonstrating the techniques have established themselves in the food-service industry. In some cases, they are among the finest chefs in the world. They know their subject.
The most important element of giving a demonstration speech is choosing a topic you know well. The success of your demonstration speech will hinge on your ability to perform the activity you are demonstrating.
Prepare Your Material
You know that if Mario Batali is preparing Zabaglione, he’s going to reach into the fridge and pull out as many eggs as he needs. You also know he is not going to stop mid-demonstration and say, “I’m out of olive oil.” Not only do they have all the ingredients they need, but the ingredients are “mise en place” everything prepped and in place.
Once you have outlined your demonstration speech, prepare the materials. It’s important to gather all the materials and visual aids you will need and practice with them in advance.
Bend Time to Your Needs
When a television chef prepares a dish that requires several hours to complete, the show doesn’t get any longer. You’re shown how to make the marinade, then the steaks go into the marinade and into the fridge overnight. Conveniently, the fridge contains a pan with already-marinated steaks, ready for the next step.
If you are demonstrating a process with steps requiring “waiting time”, be sure to bring examples of the project at each stage in the process.
If You Can’t Show, Tell
Alton Brown is the master of this step, on the show Good Eats. He may not be able to show you gluten developing in bread dough, but he’s got three puppets, one chalkboard and a barbershop quartet to help explain the process.
If it’s impossible to demonstrate every step of your topic, brainstorm for other ways to clearly explain the process.
Don’t Always Tell, Show
A good television chef lets the actions speak for themselves. The chef will say, “add a chopped onion,” and we watch as the onion is chopped and added to the pan. The chef knows when to pause and let the audience focus on the action.
Make good use of the pause. This gives opportunity to demonstrate the step and you can take a breath. The audience can concentrate on what you’re doing and what they need to do without having to concentrate on your words at the same time.
End with a Finished Product
What’s the last thing you see Bobby Flay do on Boy Meets Grill? He slices off a bit of perfectly grilled steak and eats it. We’re left with a picture of a dish that’s so delicious and simple to make, we want to run out and fire up the barbeque, even though it’s January and snowing.
Leave your audience with a finished product. If you’re demonstrating a skill you expect them to use, let them see what it looks like at the end. They are more likely to try something that they have seen successfully completed.
Preparation of a demonstration speech is the same as for a regular speech. It’s important to spend time organizing your thoughts and what you want to say. However, when preparing a demonstration speech, it’s important to remember that the demonstration and visual parts of the presentation are the most important and the speaking portion, while needing to be strong, should support the task which you’re demonstrating to the audience.