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While many of us do not
like to speak in front of people, there are times when we are asked to get up
and say a few words about someone or a topic when we have not planned on saying
anything at all. We are more shocked than anyone else. Has this ever happened
to you? If and when this does happen to you, be prepared to rise to the challenge.
Below are some tips you can use the next time you are called on to speak.
- Decide quickly what
your one message will be - Keep in mind you have not been asked to give
a speech but to make some impromptu remarks. Hopefully they have asked you
early enough so you can at least jot down a few notes before you speak. If
not, pick ONE message or comment and focus on that one main idea. Many times,
other ideas may come to you after you start speaking. If this happens, go
with the flow and trust your instincts.
- Do not try and memorize
what you will say - Trying to memorize will only make you more nervous
and you will find yourself thinking more about the words and not about the
- Start off strong
and with confidence - If you at least plan your opening statement, this
will get you started on the right foot. After all, just like with any formal
speech, getting stared is the most difficult. Plan what your first sentence
will be. You may even write this opening line down on your note card and glance
at it one more time just before you begin speaking. If you know you have three
points or ideas to say, just start off simple by saying, "I would just like
to talk about 3 points". The first point is... the second point is... and
- Decide on your transitions
from one point to the other - After you have decided on your opening remark
or line, come up with a simple transition statement that takes you to your
main point. If you have more than one point to make, you can use a natural
transition such as, "My second point is... or my next point is..." etc. Just
list on your note card or napkin, if you have to, the main points or ideas.
Do not write out the exact words, but just the points you want to mention.
- Maintain eye contact
with the audience - This is easier to do if you do not write down all
kinds of stuff to read. Look down at your next idea or thought and maintain
eye contact with your audience and speak from your heart. Focus on communicating
TO your audience and not speaking AT the crowd.
- Occassionally Throw
in an off-the-cuff remark - Because you want your style to be flexible
and seem impromptu, trust your instinct and add a few words which just pop
into your head. Keep it conversational and think of the audience as a group
of your friends.
- Finally, have a good
conclusion - Gracefully just state, "And the last point I would like to
make is...". Once you have made your last point, you can then turn control
back to the person who asked you to speak in the first place.
With a little practice,
this process will feel more natural to you. Anticipating that you MAY be asked
to say a few words should force you to at least think about what you might say
if you are asked. Then if you ARE asked, you are better prepared because you
anticipated being asked. This is much better than thinking they won't ask you
and they actually do!
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