In preparing and delivering a speech, you can select from four methods.
The impromptu method allows the speaker only a few seconds to prepare. You might get a summons from your supervisor during a staff meeting: “Sally, tell the group what you learned at the seminar in Boston.” There’s no opportunity for her to jot down major points. She describes the seminar “off the cuff,” as we say.
Clearly, we get into situations like that where we have no choice, so impromptu has to happen. However, I can’t recommend speaking without preparation when you have head notice. Too many things can go wrong–memory loss, rambling, and confusing the facts.
The speaker writes the speech in full, then relies on the text verbatim. Especially for novices, this method seems comforting. Yet the tendency is for the speaker to rely on the text so heavily that he sounds like a reader. Predictably, the manuscript becomes a barrier between you and the audience.
A few speakers memorize their messages, rehearsing them many times until they are sure they will remember every word. Only a few people in ten thousand succeed with this method. The pressure to recite every word makes the speaker look like a mannequin with a voice.
Now we have reached the method I’ve used in hundreds of presentations, and have taught to every one of my Speech Coaching clients. The speaker researches the topic, then outlines thoroughly, jotting down key words and phrases. Rather than take a full manuscript to the lectern, she takes one small page with the main three or four points on it. In my case, I’ve found a regular size mailing envelope the right size to include the “prompts” I need. Fits nicely into a coat pocket.
The extemp (or “key word”) speaker glances down at notes only occasionally to stay on track. Relieved of the obligation to follow a text exactly–through either reading or memorization–she addresses the audience with a tone that resembles animated conversation.
PICTURE A CAR SALESMAN’S FINAL WORDS TO YOU
Try this: envision a car salesman you’re visiting for the third time. How many pages will he turn as he makes his closing appeal? Enough said.
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For your next job interview, follow the extemporaneous method to prepare your remarks. Read to your interviewer and you’re sunk. Speak to the interviewer without worrying about your exact wording, and you’re far more likely to become a finalist for the position.
To learn how I can help your company and you communicate with “poise, persuasion–and profits,” call me: