Leadership: The Energy of Extemporaneous Speaking
Write-up by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
Abraham Lincoln wrote: “Extemporaneous speaking ought to be practiced and cultivated it is the lawyer’s avenue to the public. Nonetheless able and faithful he might be in other respects, men and women are slow to bring him enterprise, if he can’t make a speech.”When Lincoln spoke of extemporaneous speaking, he did not mean generating totally unprepared speeches-”winging it” we may possibly call it nowadays. Couple of speakers can trust the moment or raw talent for a very good speech. Very, quite couple of. Years ago I knew a woman who had a brief career as a keynote speaker. Several times she boasted to me that she never ever gave a prepared speech. She told me the audience deserved some thing new every time. She liked to think that it was a very good thing that her each utterance was one thing new, one thing in no way heard ahead of, never believed of before. It occurred to me that she herself may possibly in no way have thought of some of the things that she stated. Several of her thoughts had been new to her, too.For a although she was in demand simply because she was a high-energy speaker, witty and intelligent, and well informed about corporate life. But she relied entirely on her wits, and the moment. Clients never knew what type of speech they would get. Occasionally her presentation would be brilliant. Other times embarrassing. Right now she is out of the speaking organization.I know yet another speaker who took a different path. He is witty and intelligent and nicely informed too, but he prepares cautiously each and every time–even when he makes an announcement at a local meeting or introduces a relatively unknown guest speaker.”You by no means know who’s forming an opinion of you,” he when told me. “I in no way have been able to understand how a expert speaker could even think about acquiring up to speak with no preparing.” Neither can I. Not surprisingly, this speaker is in demand year right after year.In case you’d like to acquire the reputation for giving excellent extemporaneous speeches, here’s a checklist of what to do if you are called upon to make a short presentation. (A keynote presentation has extra rules, but adheres follows these basic principles, too.) One. Know what your opening sentence will be. If this opening sentence can be witty and brief and safe, excellent. If not witty, then short and safe. By “secure,” I mean some thing that you know will perform, not something that may well ricochet.Two. Generate a script, if not on paper at least in your head. Know the primary points that you need to have to cover-when, exactly where, and why if an announcement. If an introduction, who the speaker is, what are his/her credentials, and why his/her message is worth hearing. If you are called upon to acknowledge or recognize a number of people, for god’s sake, prepare a list in advance. You will nearly definitely omit somebody critical if you do not.3. Know how you will conclude. When you are acquiring up to speak, have in mind how you will finish. For the short presentation, the close usually is much more crucial than the beginning. Don’t just trail off or abandon control with Q & A. If you do Q & A, maintain back some thing strong for your conclusion– a believed-out sentence or quote or a really brief and apt story to illustrate your point. Lincoln knew and observed those rules. We know simply because some of his notes that he employed in the courtroom have been preserved. Lincoln would prepare a rough script-how he would open, the illustrations he would use, the points he would make, and how he would conclude.Moreover, Lincoln spent a lifetime acquiring material that he could plug into his speeches-ready-made modules to fit the moment. He memorized poems and Bible passages. He immersed himself in newspapers and books and written sermons. He knew thousands of jokes and humorous stories and even carried a joke book with him so that he could adapt standard stories to neighborhood circumstances.Lincoln spent a lot of time preparing for his extemporaneous presentations.It is a mistake to sound too slick, too smooth, too over-rehearsed but it’s a greater mistake to sound unprepared, inept, and unprofessional. Let all speakers who ‘wing it’ prepare for painful crashes. There are far more winds that hurt speeches than assist them.
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