Make a Successful Speech on Short Notice
Have you ever been asked to give a speech somewhere on short notice? Sure, we’d all love to have months to prepare a well rounded and informative speech for an audience, but sometimes we aren’t given the time. You have two options: decline the opportunity or seize it.
If you are apprehensive about speaking in public, force yourself to do it.
I take the opportunity to speak in public as often as possible. Public speaking is easy for me—I don’t normally get nervous and I don’t have stage fright. This is not the case for everyone.
I have to say, practice makes perfect. My years of teaching in front of 10 to 50 undergraduate students has helped. I’m lucky that I have had the chance to practice speaking in public, so that when the opportunity arises for my professional life, I’m not so afraid.
If you are apprehensive about speaking in public, force yourself to do it. Attend networking events where you are asked to get up and introduce yourself. The more you do it the more comfortable you will be.
Does your town or region have any professional groups you can join? Whether it’s a breakfast or lunch event held once a month, or a quarterly business event, put yourself out there. Practice sharing your expertise when someone asks you “So what do you do?”
All of this prep will not only get you used to speaking to strangers, it will help you network. You can make some valuable connections that can lead you to even more public speaking engagements.
Heck, you can practice making a toast at dinner with friends or even at a wedding to get your feet wet. I was the maid of honor in a friend’s wedding, and noticed that the best man had typed out pointers for his speech. Since both of us grew up with the bride and groom, I wanted to see what he was saying so I didn’t say the same thing. He wouldn’t show me…and boy was I peeved. I guess he thought I was going to upstage him, but he forgot that he was the one scheduled to speak first. If I stole his material, I was the one who was going to look like a fool.
Being prepared is a good thing—and even a little preparation is better than none. Usually when you are asked to speak, it’s because you have some sort of expertise to share with others. When I’m asked to speak in front of a group, the person inviting me has an agenda that they’d like me to fit into. I always ask if there is something particular they’d like me to talk about, and there always is.
So you’ve been asked to give a speech at your local Rotary club, or at a meeting, or convention. Score! See this as a positive instead of a negative. I watched this short video on CBSNews.com about giving a memorable speech on short notice. Leadership coach and author, Liz Cornish, gave some good advice on how to deliver a compelling speech.
First off, Cornish says, don’t panic. Or don’t panic for long. She urges us to turn our panic into a plan. She said it was as simple as AEIOU.
A stands for Audience
Who are you speaking to? Is it a group of boy scouts or a table filled with powerful CEOs? Is it a young professionals group or a classroom? Find out who you will be speaking to and discern what they care about. Rarely will you be asked to speak in front of a group of total random people with nothing in common. Even at a wedding you know the entire audience loves and cares about the two people getting married. Once you figure out who you are speaking to and what they care about, you can figure out your topic.
E stands for Excitement
If you are not totally engaged and excited about the topic you are talking about—be it dog grooming or search engine optimization—no one is going to listen to you. The best teachers are the ones who are enthusiastic about teaching. When I am moved by a speaker, I am more apt to take action in my own life. Be passionate!
I stands for Idea
Cornish warns against trying to say too much in a short speech. Figure out the one important thing you want your audience to take away from your speech and focus on that.
O stands for Organization
Use two or three stories, statistics, or metaphors to support your one main idea. Think about your speech like writing a persuasive paper for your college English class:
- State your point.
- Use two or three ways to support your point.
- Recap and tell the audience what you just told them.
- Restate your point.
Sure, it’s not this cut and dry, but it gives you a rough outline. You only have a set amount of time to present, so you don’t want to confuse and lose the audience by trying to share too much information. Be clear, concise, and organized.
U stands for YOU
If you follow all these steps, Cornish says, you will be ready to stand up in front of an audience and deliver an awesome speech.
Is it that simple? Absolutely. Do you have any tips to share on the topic of speaking in public? We’d love to hear them.