Apr 162013

Last week I wrote about developing the key for making a great speech: confidence.

How to gain that confidence?  Preparation.  And the critical element in preparation is defining your objective.   What do you want to convey in your speech, talk, or conversation?   What is your point of view?  Even if you’re simply relaying information, there should be an objective, and defining that objective will help you structure a logical flow to your talk.

So you’ve identified your audience,  nailed your objective, what next?  The questions people usually ask are: do I write a script, do I speak from notes, from Power Point slides, or talk ad hoc?  Context and your objective shape your method.   Are you standing at a podium giving a speech to a large group?  Are you presenting at a roundtable meeting?  Are you pitching an idea to a gathering of potential clients?

If you’re giving a formal presentation, you may want to write out what you want to say.  But take care that you don’t read from the script, head down with an occasional glance at the audience.  Unless you have scintillating words and ideas, you won’t capture and hold the audience’s attention.  And if you lose your place, watch out!

So will you be confident working from notes or Power Point, formulating your sentences as you go along?  If you’ve done your preparation, you may be fine.  By preparation I mean, you’ve planned the logic and flow of your speech carefully.   Spontaneity works effectively and a natural speaker makes a connection with an audience.

So do I advise you to just plan your presentation and stand up and talk?  Remember the joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall?  Practice!  If you want to call it “rehearse,” that’s fine.  Actually give that talk, in front of someone else if possible — to your cat if necessary.  And time yourself!


If you’d like to learn more tips on how to make a great preparation, come to my workshop on April 25th, 7-9 PM at Watercooler, a coworking space on Main Street in Tarrytown.

Check back next week for more thoughts on topics in communications and speech…

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