Enjoy the special flavour of the unpredictable

There never has been security. No man has ever known what he would meet around the next corner;
if life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavour.

Eleanor Roosevelt.

never_security_web

Harsh words, those, especially for those of us who like to be prepared.

“Never.” … “There never has been security.”

Still, we try to achieve it as much as we can,

prepare for all eventualities,

do our best to avoid the embarrassment of fumbling for an answer, for forgotten words, for a prepared logical flow.

And yet we know, underneath, that what Eleanor Roosevelt said is entirely true.

There will always be the unpredictable.

And we will prepare for that too.

………………….

What about the flavour it brings though?

The flavour of life … the flavour of an unpredictable speaking experience.

I like to think that being a speaker operates on at least 3 levels.

There is me, you, the speaker.

There is what I call the eagle eye – the ability we have to watch ourselves and our audiences from above and evaluate how things are going, in order to adapt.

And then there is the concept that beside the conversation we are having with our audience is another experience, the shared experience of being together in a presentation.

We can leverage that with little moments of quirking an eyebrow at the audience as if to say “See what I did there?”, or less subtly discussing what is actually going on. We can create a shared experience in this level.

If the experience is unexpected, this is where we can really capitalise on that flavour Eleanor mentioned – enjoy the moment together with the audience,

forge a bond of shared experience,

of response to the unexpected

with humour, with pathos or with jointly created action.

So while those un-predictable events can be challenging, especially if we worry too much about them beforehand, or label them failures afterwards,

they can also be the source of some of the most powerful and enjoyable experiences a speaker can have.

“Begin as you plan to go on” when you speak “off the cuff”

Pivotal Public Speaking off the cuff

 

Being able to speak “off the cuff” / impromptu / when called upon is a valuable skill.

Some people have it, usually having built it, and some don’t, well … to the extent that the whole idea is paralysingly abhorrent to them.

But for those who can, confidently, fluently and effectively speak whenever they are asked, the rewards are many.

All of the effects that speaking gives are amplified – communicating your credibility, your personality and your message among so many others.

So if you are finding the very idea of speaking impromptu paralysingly abhorrent, or just a bit too challenging, but you understand that valuable chance to communicate your credibility, personality and message, then let’s begin at the beginning when you stand to speak.

Though your mind may be racing and your heart doing the same, you can benefit from making yourself be calm and deliberate.

Stand very deliberately and take time to begin.

Pause.

Smile if it is appropriate.

Take a moment or two to think if you need to, and to ground yourself physically.

Stand up straight to build confidence.

There is always power in pause. It gains attention and can create a bit of intrigue.

Meanwhile it is gaining you the moments you need to gather your thoughts, and remind yourself of your confidence.

Do not apologise.

You will have something to say even if it is about what you don’t know about the subject and why.

Apologising ruins your confidence, deflates the audience’s confidence in you and is generally demoralising.

It is also a waste of the opportunity to create a great attention-getting opening that leads into your ideas.

Open deliberately and positively then, and you set yourself and your audience up for a confident, engaging delivery. It’s a great start to communicating that credibility, personality and message.

[Public speaking quote] … “thinking on your feet” … or not!

“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.”

– George Jessel

… so I say TG for rehearsal. It has saved me more times than I care to count!!

Be prepared to say a few words off the cuff

Mention impromptu speaking and many people shiver with fear and loathing. Given that many would rather die than give a speech, then to do so “of the cuff” is completely beyond the pale.

Impromptu speaking certainly is speaking “off the cuff” and we often think of it as speaking without preparation. That, I think, is where we go wrong. A great deal of preparation can be put into impromptu speaking. As Mark Twain said, “It usually takes me about three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

Consider everyday conversation – “Hello, beautiful day isn’t it?” If someone says that to you in passing, you can answer and probably choose from a range of answers, “off the cuff”. Much of your ability there comes from habit combined with thought. If someone asks you about your business or what you do for a living, you can answer, and again choose what to say “off the cuff”. And your ability there comes from habit and from having thought out your marketing or why it is you do what you do.

These are both examples of impromptu speaking and we deal with similar impromptu situations on a regular, frequent basis, usually with success and without too much difficulty.

All we need to do then is apply the same skills to Impromptu speaking in a more formal setting and we have the same achievement.

Generally when we are asked a question, the best thing we can do is talk about what we know and particularly what we know best. Confidence comes from knowing that we are familiar with the information. And because we are familiar with the information we can give more thought to how best to present it.

This works particularly well if you are being asked to talk about your specialty. You can choose what to say, just as you do when you answer a conversational question. You can choose based on your audience what you want to be the result of your talk, and how much time you have.

If, on the other hand, you have been asked your opinion on something you are not familiar with, you will also need to choose from our own knowledge and experience in choosing what to say. The worst case scenario is being asked about something that you know absolutely nothing about. Then it becomes a case of talking about the value of the subject itself rather than its information. You can also talk about why you know nothing about it, that you have no experience of it and why, that you would like to know or need to know more and why, or that you would prefer not to know and why.

So when you are asked to speak, think of your own life and what you know about the subject. Think also about what you feel, and what your opinions are. If you have stories from your life that relate to the subject, it’s highly likely that you can construct a speech around those – and again how they make you feel and how they may have influenced your opinion.

So state an opinion in terms that will engage the audience. Use your experience and knowledge to support two or tree points about that opinion. Conclude with the same statement of opinion, adapted to the new information that you gave and you have quite a powerful completely impromptu speech.

So given that you have a way to access your own experiences and knowledge to create “a few words”, you can set up a mindset of being prepared to speak off the cuff or impromptu. This preparation involves being aware, always, of things you could use in a speech. Be aware of stories happening in your own life and the lives of those around you and those in the news or movies. Be aware of your own experience and life story. Be aware of your own knowledge. It is often broader and deeper than you knew until you catalogue it.

Then you can also collect phrases and ways of saying things that will support you in your presentations. Collect phrases that can stall for time, that can cover for any mishaps during the speech, that can link between ideas, and that can introduce humour. Think of clever or witty ways you could tell your stories, and ways to tell them so that they truly and succinctly support a point.

Now you are prepared to speak seemingly “without preparation”!!

(c) Bronwyn Richie
If you want to incude this article in your publicstion, please do, but only if you include the following information with it:

Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, a writer, and an award-winning speaker and trainer.
She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk , a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. Boost your speaking success, click here for Bronwyn’s FREE 30 speaking tips. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com

Extemporaneous speaking

Extemporaneous speaking should be practised and cultivated. It is the lawyer’s avenue to the public….

Abraham Lincoln

Quotation about Public Speaking

It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.

~~ Mark Twain

(Thank you so much for your insight, Sir, again!!)

How to speak on the spot – successfully

Being put “on the spot” can be a challenge. And yet to some it seems so easy. They rise to the occasion, speak fluently, seemingly without preparation, and with such ease. We would all like to be able to emulate them – that effortless presentation of ideas, that seemingly impromptu connection with an audience, and an outcome that establishes them as credible and convincing.

In this article, let’s look at 6 techniques you can implement to build your fluency and confidence, so that you, too, can seemingly present with effortless ease.

1. Stand very deliberately and take time to begin. Pause. Smile if it is appropriate. Take a moment or two to think if you need to, and to ground yourself physically. Stand up straight to build confidence.

2. Do not apologise. You will have something to say even if it is about what you don’t know about the subject and why. Apologising ruins your confidence, deflates the audience’s confidence in you and is generally demoralising. It is also a waste of the opportunity to create a great attention-getting opening that leads into your ideas.

3. Begin with a strong opening and with confidence. Make a bold statement of your theme or to introduce what you want to say. It may be a challenge to the audience. It may be a strong statement of belief. The emphasis here is on the word strong. You convince your audience, and in the process, you convince yourself that you are confident and have a strong theme.

4. If necessary, repeat the topic out loud, either as an opening or following the strong opening. It gives you the feeling of gaining time, and it helps you develop your theme and tie it into the topic.

5. Scary though it may be, maintain eye contact. You and the audience are all in this together. Share the experience. Make the tone conversational so that you engage them in your material and presentation. Use words that you would use with them in conversation. If possible relate your material to someone in the audience or the organisation involved or to the geographical area.

6. Stick with your topic. Use your stories, examples and other support material to relate to that topic. Call back, if possible, to your opening statement. Stay focussed on your message.

7. Take questions and answers if there is time and/or opportunity, but not right at the end. Instead, finish strong. If nothing else, conclude with a reiteration of your opening statement rehashed in light of what you have said during the speech. If there is no need to thank anyone at the end, then a nod and/or smile is enough to finish, and can be far more powerful.

Add a dash of practise to this recipe. With experience you can build these techniques into habits so that they come to you more easily. With experience, and success, your confidence will grow. And with experience you will become more comfortable with not only speaking “on the spot”, but also interacting with your audience “on the spot” as well.

© Bronwyn Ritchie If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:

Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. Get her 30 speaking tips FREE and boost your public speaking mastery over 30 weeks. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com

Be prepared to say a few words off the cuff

Mention impromptu speaking and many people shiver with fear and loathing. Given that many would rather die than give a speech, then to do so “of the cuff” is completely beyond the pale.

Impromptu speaking certainly is speaking “off the cuff” and we often think of it as speaking without preparation. That, I think, is where we go wrong. A great deal of preparation can be put into impromptu speaking. As Mark Twain said, “It usually takes me about three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

Consider everyday conversation – “Hello, beautiful day isn’t it?” If someone says that to you in passing, you can answer and probably choose from a range of answers, “off the cuff”. Much of your ability there comes from habit combined with thought. If someone asks you about your business or what you do for a living, you can answer, and again choose what to say “off the cuff”. And your ability there comes from habit and from having thought out your marketing or why it is you do what you do.

These are both examples of impromptu speaking and we deal with similar impromptu situations on a regular, frequent basis, usually with success and without too much difficulty.

All we need to do then is apply the same skills to Impromptu speaking in a more formal setting and we have the same achievement.

Generally when we are asked a question, the best thing we can do is talk about what we know and particularly what we know best. Confidence comes from knowing that we are familiar with the information. And because we are familiar with the information we can give more thought to how best to present it.

This works particularly well if you are being asked to talk about your specialty. You can choose what to say, just as you do when you answer a conversational question. You can choose based on your audience what you want to be the result of your talk, and how much time you have.

If, on the other hand, you have been asked your opinion on something you are not familiar with, you will also need to choose from our own knowledge and experience in choosing what to say. The worst case scenario is being asked about something that you know absolutely nothing about. Then it becomes a case of talking about the value of the subject itself rather than its information. You can also talk about why you know nothing about it, that you have no experience of it and why, that you would like to know or need to know more and why, or that you would prefer not to know and why.

So when you are asked to speak, think of your own life and what you know about the subject. Think also about what you feel, and what your opinions are. If you have stories from your life that relate to the subject, it’s highly likely that you can construct a speech around those – and again how they make you feel and how they may have influenced your opinion.

So state an opinion in terms that will engage the audience. Use your experience and knowledge to support two or tree points about that opinion. Conclude with the same statement of opinion, adapted to the new information that you gave and you have quite a powerful completely impromptu speech.

So given that you have a way to access your own experiences and knowledge to create “a few words”, you can set up a mindset of being prepared to speak off the cuff or impromptu. This preparation involves being aware, always, of things you could use in a speech. Be aware of stories happening in your own life and the lives of those around you and those in the news or movies. Be aware of your own experience and life story. Be aware of your own knowledge. It is often broader and deeper than you knew until you catalogue it.

Then you can also collect phrases and ways of saying things that will support you in your presentations. Collect phrases that can stall for time, that can cover for any mishaps during the speech, that can link between ideas, and that can introduce humour. Think of clever or witty ways you could tell your stories, and ways to tell them so that they truly and succinctly support a point.

Now you are prepared to speak seemingly “without preparation”!!

(c) Bronwyn Richie
If you want to incude this article in your publication, please do, but only if you include the following information with it:

Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, a writer, and an award-winning speaker and trainer.
She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk , a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. Boost your speaking success, click here for Bronwyn’s FREE 30 speaking tips. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com