Professional Speaking Skills
Have you ever been asked to speak in public? How did it make you feel? How about speaking in public with no warning? Even easier, huh?
What are we so afraid of? Well, many things, but the vision that people tend to have is, Oh my gosh. What if I get up and my mind goes blank?
That’s OK. Even if your mind goes blank, wouldn’t it be nice to know that you are always able to go on because you have a tactical verbal pattern in your communication arsenal? Today I’m going to give you that tactical verbal pattern.
Impromptu Speech Scenario
First, let’s talk about a specific scenario: You’re at a conference. Perhaps it’s a Customer Service Training Conference, 300 people in the room and your boss is going to be introducing John Jones, a keynote speaker your company invited to speak about customer service skills. Well John Jones is scheduled to start, and your boss is nowhere to be found, so your company CEO says to you, “Hey, why don’t you get up and introduce John?”
You have zero time to prepare. And like most people, you have a very real and very great fear of speaking in public.
What do you say? What do you do?
Most people would stammer and stutter and sound as unprepared as they are.
There are two types of public speakers: There are good ones with professional speaking skills and there are bad ones without these skills, and there is no middle ground.
There are two types of speech givers: good ones and bad ones. No in-between. Additionally there are two types of bad public speakers: First, there are the ones who know they can’t speak–They get up and they are so nervous that they are painful to watch. You just can’t look away as they embarrass themselves. But they’re not as bad as those terrible speakers who think that they are great ones. They get up and tell a few stories, relate a few jokes, reminisce about old times and talk endlessly about themselves, oblivious to the fact that their audience is bored, sometimes snoring, and anxious to get back to the event. Basically, they mistake talking for effective public speaking, and generally think that more is better.
Then there are those savvy speakers who, without any apparent preparation whatsoever can get up, say a few words, be very eloquent and make the whole presentation look effortless. It looks effortless because it is at the time. This is because the preparation for this spontaneous speech probably took place long ago.
Would you like to be prepared so that when called you’re called upon, your speech, your toast, your last minute introduction appears polished though spontaneous? How would you like to be confident that no matter what you can always, without notice, speak in public with no hesitation, stammering, or stuttering– and sound good doing it?
Delivering eloquent, fluid, and polished impromptu addresses is a skill that very few people possess.
You know who does possess that skill? Most politicians. How is it that most politicians can speak fluidly, and off-the-cuff? Is it part of their training? Well, yes in a manner of speaking. They have equipped themselves with a variety of verbal patterns for specific situations. I’m going to teach you one of them now. With this tool you will always sound prepared and confident, even in last-minute speaking situations.
You must be ready to speak publicly at a moment’s notice. Remember that if you exhibit poor public-speaking skills, it’s possible that no one will say anything to you about your performance. It’s possible that no one will openly criticize you. In fact, it’s most likely that listeners will feel sorry for a bumbling speaker. Generally we don’t tell other people that they are poor public speakers and that they have just embarrassed themselves and all of their listeners. Nope. We just don’t give those speakers positions that require powerful communication skills. Almost any high paying job requires polished speaking skills at one time or another. Public speaking skills are critical skills and can mean the difference between getting the job or getting the boot. Don’t be at a disadvantage. Take the time to learn the following tactical, verbal pattern and apply it to almost any speaking situation.
Verbal Pattern for delivering a toast or impromptu speech of any sort–EASILY
Here’s how this pattern sounds in use:
“Good Morning everyone. As we all know, this has been one of the best customer service conferences in the history of XYZ Corporation.We’ve all learned so much and are so grateful to have this opportunity to add to our professional and personal tool box and I am so honored to be able to introduce to you our next guest speaker, Mr. John Jones. So let’s all welcome Mr. Jones by giving him a big, warm round of applause.”
Let me give you the breakdown. The preceding example contains five lead-in lines.
Lead-in line #1 – Good…(morning, afternoon, evening)
Lead-in line #2 – As we all know…
Lead-in line #3 – We’ve all…
Lead-in line #4 – I…
Lead-in line #5 – So let’s all…
Once again, it’s simply five lead-in lines.
Let me break them down for you one by one.
First lead-in line
Good – All you have to do is say, “good morning…good evening…good afternoon…happy Hanukkah…Merry Kwanza….” All you’re doing is saying Hello.
Second lead-in line
As we all know – Following this, you state the obvious. Just state why you are there. For example, “As we all know we are here to celebrate the 60th Wedding Anniversary of my parents and your friends, Mildred and Ronald Davies…. As we all know we are here to give a warm send off to our good friend, Jim Schmith, who has given so much to Goldmark over these years…. As we all know we are here to honor a great religious and military leader, General Joseph the Head Start….” Simple.
Third lead-in line
We’ve all (or we all, we, etc…) – With “We all…” what you’re doing isestablishing common ground. Most speakers who are not good, will talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and never once mention their audience. We are going to do that in one sentence. With one sentence you can establish common ground. For example, all you have to do is state what everybody has in common in the room. That’s all. You all have something in common or you wouldn’t be there. For example, “We’ve all been touched by their lives. Each in our own unique way…. We’ve all valued, not only Jim’s contribution to our company but his friendship and the assistance that he’s given to each one of us as we strive for personal growth…. We have all learned lessons of strategy, strength and camaraderie from Joseph The Head Start’s example.” Simple.
Fourth lead-in line
I (or I’ve) – Just state why you’re saying a few words. If there is some reason you’re getting up and saying something state what that reason is. For example, “I am honored to be able to introduce to you our guests of honor, Ronald and Mildred Davies… I am honored to be able to introduce Jim Schmith, friend and teacher of us all…I’m honored to introduce to you the greatest military strategist of all time, General Joseph the Head Start.” Simple.
And now the fifth and last lead-in line
So let’s all – Remember, so let’s all is your closing line as well as thelead-in line. Frequently, at the end of speeches, people will trail off. Even if your speech sounds good at the start, if you do not have a powerful closing line, it all falls flat. For example, let me give you a situation in which somebody sounds pretty good up until the end–when it becomes apparent they have no closing line: “Well, good morning everybody. As we all know we are here to celebrate the 60th Wedding Anniversary of my parents and your friends, Mildred and Ronald Davies. We’ve all been touched by their lives each in our own unique way, and I’m honored to be able to introduce to you our guests of honor, Ronald and Mildred Davies, especially because I’m not only their son but one of their biggest admirers as well. So everyone get ready– it’s going to be a fun night. You know there is a dance coming up later on so um …. I have lots of stories to tell you but I don’t have time now so um….Everybody enjoy the rest of the evening. That’s it…….. hee-heee-heee…yeah, that’s it.” How often have you heard a perfectly good speech trail off with, “Well, that’s about it….”? Or how often have you heard a perfectly good start to a speech turn into a boring drone-on? Remember the last wedding you attended? Remember the best man who just couldn’t close out his thoughts? That’s what I’m talking about!
There are two words that you should never say at the end of a speech or a toast or any other type of talk if you are a polished communicator: “That’s it.” “That’s it,” is a Danger phrase. You should never have to tell anybody, “That’s it; that’s all; that’s the end of my message.” When your message ends, your audience should know it because you’ve delivered a strong closing line, and following that, there should be no more words coming out of your mouth.
NO MORE WORDS! That’s why we call it a closing line.
“So let’s all…” is a call for action. For example, “So let’s all give a round of applause to Ronald and Mildred Davies…. So let’s all raise a glass to Jim…. So let’s all bow our heads in a moment of silence for Joseph.”
Remember, there are three things that will work for almost any occasion. As long as you have these three closing lines ready, you should be set: 1: “Let’s all raise a glass.” However, maybe you don’t all have glasses so #2: “Let’s all give a round of applause.” At a funeral, however, that’s not appropriate, so #3: “Let’s all bow our heads.” (You should all have heads.)
So let’s put it all together:
I’d like you to think of a colleague and a friend at work. Let’s call her Jane and let’s say that Jane has been offered and is taking a job at another company in town, and you are at a gathering during lunchtime where everyone is saying goodbye to Jane and wishing her well. Someone says to you “Hey, hey could you say a few words for Jane please?” Now is your chance to shine. What would you say? Again, think of a friend–and I’m going to start you out by giving you the lead-in lines to show you how easy it is. All I would like you to do is fill in the rest in your head. OK, you’re on:
As we all know…
So let’s all…
Hopefully your toast sounded something like this:
“Good afternoon everyone. As we all know Jane has been offered a position with Goodall and Goodbye, and unfortunately for some of us she’s going to take it. We all know the terrific contribution Jane has made to this company and what a good friend she’s been. I’m going to miss her terribly as I’m sure you all will as well. So let’s all toast to Jane in gratitude for the past, and wish her well in the future. Congratulations Jane. ”
Easy right? because you’re prepared. Now let’s try it again. Let’s say that you are at your company’s holiday party– another great opportunity to show that you are a savvy communicator–and you have decided to give a toast. I’m again going to give you the lead-in lines. All I would like you to do is fill in the blanks. OK–try it again:
As we all know…
So let’s all…
Simple. I might have said something really simple like this.
“Well good evening everybody. As we all know we are here for our company’s annual holiday extravaganza. We’ve all worked really hard this past year to bring this company to where it is today and I’m so grateful to each and every one of you for all of your help and support; I’m very fortunate to be able to call you not just colleagues but friends. So let’s all raise a glass and congratulate ourselves on a year of success and hard work, and wish ourselves even more success (and maybe with less work?) in the year to come. Congratulations everybody. ”
Simple–as long as you have lead-in lines.
In the future, when you are at events where people are getting up to say a few words, even if you choose not to participate, I would like you to silently recite the “good…as we all know…I…we’ve all…so let’s all” lead-in lines. Before you know it, you’ll be able to effortlessly get up and speak at any public event. Even if you’re nervous on the inside, it’s all about using tools like this to appear poised on the outside. With practice you can always look poised (even if it’s just on the outside).
Practice this response silently at every opportunity so that you will be ready when your turn comes to rise to the occasion.
All it takes is practice.
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If you’re looking for professional development training from the world’s best, Dan O’Connor is a keynote speaker and author specializing in communication skills, and Dan is the creator of “Tactical Communication Skills Training System” which has revolutionized the communication training industry. Check out all Dan’s videos, books, audios, and other resources at http://danoconnortraining.com/
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