Imagine the situation.
You are invited to say a few words in support of a friend. A recommendation. You have some advanced notice. You think your friend is amazing so this should be easy. What do you do?
That was the scene recently at a workshop I attended. The facilitator asked three people to say a few words in support of her service. They went on and on and on, rambling all around the point without actually landing anywhere. I know the speakers meant well but I missed the point because they never made a point.
This was a failure on many levels. The speakers reflected poorly on themselves. Every time you open your mouth you give people a chance to evaluate you. Whatever recommendation the speakers wanted to make was lost, representing a lost opportunity for the facilitator.
When given the microphone, like anything in life you need a plan. Here are some tips to make the best impression next time:
- Know what you want to say. Write it out to make sure you make the points you need.
- Practice out loud. The words never come out of your mouth the way they are arranged in your head.
- Know and respect your time limit. If you allowed to speak for five minutes don’t take ten minutes. It just makes you look unorganized and undermines your message.
- Don’t repeat. Say what you want to say then sit down. You don’t reinforce your point through repetition; you just bore your listener.
- Be sure your stories relate to the point you want to make. Stories for the sake of stories are just boring.
- Seek help. Toastmasters International provides a safe environment to practice. And practice makes the perfect impression.
Actually these tips are appropriate for anyone who has to talk off the cuff regularly. For anyone this can be terrifying. Practice, practice, practice!