Knowing how to write a speech when you’re asked to is really important, not only for impressing your audience but also for gaining the respect of your peers. There are many books and guides out there saying how to write better presentation speeches but it all boils down to certain simple principles. Here are my five top tips.

1. Start with a few words about yourself

The best way to get your audience to trust you is by letting them know a bit about yourself. This doesn’t mean you have to create an entire biography of your life, but it’s a good idea to start out with a little bit of information that will allow the audience to relate to you. Maybe you went to school in the same town, or maybe you work in the same industry. You want to establish a connection with your audience as soon as possible. It’s important to talk about yourself to establish some authority on the topic at the beginning of any presentation or speech. But you don’t want to spend more than a few minutes doing it.

2. Include a joke if you can

In order to connect with your audience, you need to show them that you’re not a robot. The easiest way to do this is by telling a joke at the beginning of your talk; it’s a great way to break the ice and loosen everyone up.

Don’t worry if you’re not a natural comedian — chances are your audience doesn’t expect you to be. Just make sure that whatever joke you tell is relevant (i.e., related somehow to your topic), so it sets the tone for your talk and helps ease any tension in the room.

3. Know your audience

Obviously, if the topic is something serious, a joke may not be appropriate. Research your audience, your room, and the tone expectations. For example, if you are speaking at a wedding, there will likely be people of different ages and background in attendance. But don’t overdo it on the humour just because it’s a wedding – weddings can be serious stuff!

4.Use visual aids as part of your speech

Visuals help. Visuals can be used to support your words; they shouldn’t replace them. If you’re using images that do not have text in them, make sure you explain them. If they do have text in them, explain what people aren’t seeing and why that’s important to their understanding of the image. Keep in mind that the goal is to help your audience understand and remember what you say. You should also use them to show examples and add supporting information.

Related: Why Presentation Design is More Important Than Ever

5. Anchor what you’re saying with key phrases

Use transition words and phrases between sections and when moving from one idea to another within a section. This helps hold everything together in the audience’s mind so that your speech flows smoothly from one idea to the next like an essay does. When appropriate, repeat these phrases about your topic throughout the speech so it will be easier for your listeners to follow you and remember what you said.

Giving a great speech can take years of practice, but there are a number of things you can do to help your cause. To begin with, know that your audience is not only listening to what you’re saying, but how you’re saying it. Hopefully, you can use a combination of these tips to make your next speech, presentation or talk more effective. Remember that just because a speech seems simple doesn’t mean it can’t be profound. An abundance of content-rich web pages proves that there is plenty of information out there—the challenge is how to condense your thoughts into a concise and engaging piece. A speech is similar in this way: the goal isn’t just to get your point across or inform the audience about something—it is also to inspire them and leave them feeling enlightened. Furthermore, a good speech will not only hold the audience’s attention—it will also leave a lasting impression.