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Tips for Talking
Here are some good last minute tips…
You create your audience
It’s true. When they arrive, they are just a gaggle. After your talk, for better or worse, they are different: in knowledge, in mood, in their impression of you (for better or worse). Just by being together in your presence, you create your audience.
The Out-of-the-Blue Talk
What if you’re asked unexpectedly at a meeting to give a report? (In the speech biz, it’s known as an “impromptu talk”): Take a deep breath. Now ask yourself:
- What’s the issue or the question?
- What’s the point I want to make?
- What are two or three main supporting items?
Pull those together in your mind. Jot them down. Stand up. Smile – and go to it.
Your Talk’s Goal …
… is not to wow them, but to deliver your message or make your point clearly and simply. That means you don’t need to be Barack Obama, Bill Clinton or Stephen Colbert. Just know your stuff. And practice.
Your Talk’s B.M.I.
A talk is a paper with a leaner B.M.I. – Body Mass Index. A talk has all the same body parts as your paper – intro, thesis, organization, evidence, a dynamite conclusion – but fewer words, paragraphs, examples and detours.
She sat practicing at the piano all day long, hour after hour. Yet that one stubborn passage would not come, would not flow effortlessly through her fingers.
She stopped. She went to sleep.
In the morning, she woke, ate breakfast, and sat at her piano.
Now that passage flowed effortlessly through the keys.
Her fingers learned it while her body slept.
The moral: The night before your talk, go to sleep. It can be the best way to practice.
What to do with your hands during your talk? They are going to be with you. You can’t leave them at home. Pockets? Clasped in front? (Called “the fig leaf.”) Behind your back? Too Military Police.
Try holding something: A pencil. Your note cards. A pair of glasses.