METHOD 2: SPEAK EXTEMPORANEOUSLY
If you want to look more spontaneous and come across as more authentic or engaging, then try speaking extemporaneously.
Many people are concerned that if they use this method they may not remember what to say or look unprepared.
Here are some techniques to come across polished even when you speak impromptu.
- Get clear on the outcome you want— what’s the key takeaway the audience should remember?
- Identify three or at most five supporting ideas or examples that you think will help illustrate the main idea.
- Write all of these on an index card or a single sheet of paper.
- Start with the main idea and draw out your thoughts as you would if speaking to a friend.
- It’s ok if you go out of order. As you reach the end of your time, review the supporting ideas and see if there’s anything you’ve missed that you want to include.
- Better supporting ideas may occur to you mid-speech, and you may realize that you don't need to cover everything on your card to convey your point.
- Record your impromptu remarks. You may have said something new or genius that you can reuse in another form later.
- Have someone alert you a couple of minutes before your time is up so you can take a moment to mentally review your big outcomes and determine if there is anything critical you must be sure to cover in the last few minutes.
Keep in mind that speaking extemporaneously does require some depth of expertise about the topic that you are addressing. But once you have that level of knowledge, it’s a great method for speaking fluidly and engaging your audience.
If you are speaking about a topic that you are familiar with, you quite likely can explain it off the top of your head.
During my preparation for a recent event, someone said to me, “Howard, you seem to just go into things all the time and you just make it up.”
And I said, “Well, yeah, that's kind of true.”
But on the flip side, I spend hours every week working with clients, coaching teams, listening to podcasts, reading books, which together serve as a more continuous form of preparation.
In fact, one method of preparing further to speak extemporaneously on a topic is to review key content about the subject or just to have continuous learning in the area that you're engaged in. That way you will typically have plenty to say when asked and all you have to do is make sure there is some basic structure to your remarks.
And of course extemporaneous remarks, when you are relaxed and speaking with confidence and real knowledge will be far more engaging.
The downsides of this type of preparation is that sometimes the message is not as “tight” as if you scripted it and you have to be sure to either keep an eye on the clock or have someone reminding you periodically about your remaining time to be sure you align with the expected duration.