Remember, one of Mimi’s Laws of Great Speaking: “Never make an audience nervous.” It’s not just that the audience is reminded of 8th grade speech class. They are more sophisticated now. With the popularity of TED Talks, people are used to well-structured excellence from the speaker on stage. They expect you to be smart, polished, and definitely not nervous. And they want you to be clear and lead them. They don’t want to figure out what you are saying. Remember, a speech is not an article you read aloud. A speech is not in writing. The audience can’t look back to see what you were talking about. A speech is linear and temporal. It is said and then it’s gone.
When you “wing it,” that is, you think you know your content so well you can “just talk” about it, you are trusting your brain to think in a linear fashion. Ahh! Not so fast my friend! What if it doesn’t? What happens when you draw a blank? Do you root around in your notes, right in front of the audience, muttering “it’s here somewhere….?” The audience is thinking, “don’t waste my time struggling! Life is hard enough. I don’t wanna watch people struggle! I don’t even watch the news before I go to bed.”
Here are 3 tips to not “wing it:”
1) Memorize your first few sentences very well. “Lead With Their Need.” You’re first sentences should point out the pain, need, or situation of your audience. It’s why they need to hear the solutions your product or service provides. When they are engaged, they will lean in and listen. They are ready to learn and be entertained.
2) Learn your speech in “thought groups.” Point – story – repeat point. The story anchors the point. It’s proof your point works. When you memorize word for word, missing a word can trip you up. Horrors!
3) Have a great ending with a “call to action.” People need to know what to do next to engage your services. Rehearse your ending so it’s smooth. Most important – be passionate about it – lots of energy! I know, it sounds like a lot of work. Too bad. Speaking in front of people is a privilege, so respect your audience.