Speaking Tip 46
Imagine these three scenarios:
- 1. In 2 weeks, you will make a presentation to 250 strangers in another town
- 2. Tomorrow, you will give an update on your project at a staff meeting
- 3. Today, you need to have a conversation with your spouse, child, potential client, subordinate, or supervisor
Which talk would you spend the most time preparing for? Which one would you be most likely to have with little or no preparation?
The answers will vary from person to person but in most cases, people will spend the most amount of time preparing for the first scenario – speaking to a group of strangers. This makes sense as for most people, it puts us out of our comfort zone to speak to a large group. Smaller groups of people that we know are less threatening.
If you consider which situation may have the most dramatic impact on your life and business, you may find you should be spending time preparing for the smaller talks.
You may feel comfortable speaking in a one-to-one situation, but that is not a reason to not prepare. You are trying to bring about a change: elicit support for a project or idea, change a behavior, or shift an attitude. Being familiar with the topic and audience leads people into a false sense of comfort and security. In the first scenario, where most people feel the least comfortable, the stakes are generally very low: personal credibility and momentary embarrassment. In the second and third scenario, the stakes are much higher.
In general, the smaller the audience, the more important it is for the speaker to be sharp and on task.
The next time you have to speak to a small group or one-to-one – prepare as if it were an important presentation. Take time to determine your desired outcome. Write out how you plan on achieving that outcome. What are the 3-5 supporting points you are going to include? What visual aids can you use to help make your point? Practice.
View every situation with the planning and foresight needed to accomplish your goals. Your credibility, success, and reputation are at stake. Do not be lured into delivering a poor performance because you feel comfortable – rather use the opportunity to excel.
You will find your credibility and success increase.
© 2009 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. We help you profit from your words. Call for information on individual coaching or group training.