1 & 3: NEVER Wing It
1: NEVER wing it when you speak in public.
When you “wing it,” you set yourself up for feeling anxious
One of the best ways to deal with the nervousness many people feel before speaking is to prepare thoroughly. Otherwise, when you stand in front of a roomful of faces you have two problems. One, you have to deal with all that attention directed at you. Two, which is unnecessary if you prepare ahead of time, you have to come up with something to say.
If you “wing it,” you’re more likely to go off on tangents
When you decide to say whatever comes into your head, you may find yourself telling stories about events and experiences that have nothing to do with your topic.
Should you “wing it,” you run the risk of forgetting what you mean to say
Even Sir Winston Churchill, one of the world’s greatest orators who led the Allied Forces to victory during World War II, learned to never wing it. He stopped improvising his speeches after he went totally blank at an event (from Churchill by Paul Johnson).
Instead of “winging it” do this:
- Write down the main points of your speech. Keep them before you. That way, you can glance down at your notes occasionally to jog your memory and keep you on topic.
- To feel much more comfortable in front of your audience, practice your speech a number of times beforehand.
- When you practice your speech, revise it so that your speech fits into the time allotted. Also, by saying your speech out loud, you’ll discover what you need to add or discard. This won’t be as apparent when you simply prepare the speech on paper or in your head.
Of course, occasionally you will have to give a speech without preparation. One experience comes to mind. A wonderful woman who had organized numerous of my events invited a gathering of people to her home to meet me. I sat in a corner of her living room, which had chairs jammed around its perimeter. In this situation, I felt that a formal previously-rehearsed speech would not work.
“What should I talk about?” I asked her.
“Just tell them a bit about your experiences in Yucatan,” she said, “and then they can ask questions.”
They asked many questions. Bought many books. And, we all had a good time!
However, most of the time, I enjoy presenting one of my prepared, previously-rehearsed speeches.