I have heard too many people say that they work well under pressure. I have also heard people say that they are subject-matter experts or have done a presentation so many times that they can just “wing it.” My only response is, “Good luck.” You will find that effective public speakers are constantly preparing. That preparation is crucial to ensuring that your audience gets the key points you want them to walk away with. If you “wing it,” you are potentially leaving out critical points. Your ability to be clear and concise and to stay on track will also be jeopardized.
Writing out the speech in its entirety as the next step after writing an outline ensures that you have a clear plan of attack for covering everything you want covered. Additionally, writing out the speech ensures that you have a full arsenal of economical words for your audience to absorb. A message hits home more quickly and more effectively when you are succinct and thoughtful. You can take the fully scripted speech, after you have practiced it successfully, and trim it back down to an outline or key points you want to make. You should know the script well enough by then that the appropriate points will be emphasized and not forgotten.
Isn’t the ability to think quickly on your feet without a script important to your success? I would answer “yes,” with a caveat. Impromptu speaking skills are crucial to your growth as a speaker; they help you handle the question-and-answer part, deal with tough audiences, and adapt your material based on the audience’s reaction. However, impromptu speaking is really just an extension of well-prepared speaking. The speaker still needs to keep the speech on point and within the expected time limit. The success I have seen with people speaking off the cuff has been sporadic, at best, and rarely duplicated consistently.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood
MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby