By Margo McKenzie
As living, breathing individuals, we are expected to speak up at various events such as weddings, dinners, and sometimes even funerals. The event will dictate the purpose of the speech. Our intent might be to entertain, inform or console. We might even want to persuade an audience about a critical idea. Some people distinguish types of speeches based on purpose, and this article will distinguish types of speeches based on method of delivery.
Once we add writerpreneur to our portfolio, more speaking engagements will come our way.
These speaking engagements will come in different forms and with varying amounts of preparation time, but at some point in our business, we will be called upon to speak to one or several people, so it behooves us to be prepared.
Did anyone see Kanye West at the MTV Awards on Sunday evening, August 28? He covered a slew of topics when he took the stage, and he didn’t retrieve a little white sheet of paper out of his pocket and refer to it during his speech. He delivered what is known as an impromptu speech, and it certainly generated a lot of chatter on the internet. Although most people couldn’t figure out the main point of his speech, he did deliver one.
The speech qualifies as impromptu because he didn’t prepare it in advance. It was a spontaneous, unplanned, unscripted speech. When he couldn’t think of anything more to say right away, he just paused--awkwardly. The audience had to wait for Kanye to get his thoughts together.
I know very few people who would volunteer to deliver an impromptu speech. But writerpreneurs have to be ready. Whenever we open our mouths, we represent our business, and our desire should be to always leave a favorable impression with whoever is listening.
So how can we be prepared to give a speech which, by definition, means “unprepared speech” ?
I’m going to reveal a little secret. The minute someone asks us to speak, our mind must make a swift change into the express lane, which means we have to start thinking quickly. Are we going to try and write a quick speech? No. What we are going to do is think of the three key words we are going to speak about. For example, if someone asks us to talk for a brief minute on our business. We should think in chronological order in terms of: Why? Who? What?
When we get to the mic, we can easily think of why we created the business, who we hope to serve, and what we want to deliver. As we’re speaking other, ideas will emerge, and we just go with them as they relate to the three key words. As long as we stick to these key words and support them with relevant anecdotes, people will never know that it was an impromptu speech.
When I had to facilitate a three-hour prayer vigil at my church, at one segment, I ran out of things to pray. So, I just asked the people in the audience for their ideas. This can be awakward for everyone, especially the speaker.
If we encounter one of those frozen moments, we should just remember that the audience wants us to succeed.
Here are some questions that we can ask to engage the audience in our impromptu speeches:
We need to remember that even an impromptu speech needs a conclusion like:
Some people may say this is this cheating, or that even the conclusion of the impromptu speech should be unplanned. But my response to them is this: Like a good scout, be prepared at all times.
Sometimes we will know in advance about a speaking engagement. A school may ask us to speak about our writing at a career fair or we may be called upon to address writers at a conference. This is where the extemporaneous speech comes in.
This type of speech is planned, but not memorized. It’s okay to refer to clearly delineated outlines when delivering these speeches.
Referring to a short outline helps us deliver an organized and planned speech without memorizing every word. We’ve probably seen these kinds of talks at debates. The presidential candidates always refer to notes when they’re speaking.
Those of us who are more visual might prefer graphic organizers as an outline.
The Written Speech
For this type of speech, we are reading every word that has been written. We have all encountered this type of speech at a graduation ceremony where students deliver the valedictory and salutatory speeches. Sometimes pastors preach sermons using this method.
As a writepreneur, we may resort to this type of speaking every time we speak. We don’t have to worry about omitting important information.
After we’ve made decisions about the contents of the speech and the method of delivery, there are a host of other speech-delivery elements that we must implement as identified at the end of the article.
The fourth type of speech-delivery method is the memorized speech. Some of the best I have heard were the speeches delivered at a school-sponsored Martin Luther King oratory contest. Students didn’t just memorize his words; they memorized every pause and peak in his voice.
The downside of memorized speeches is that you just might forget the next line, and no one will be sitting in the first row cuing you on. Frankly, I’m hard-pressed to think of an occasion where a writerpreneur would want to deliver a memorized speech. But just because I can’t think of one doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Just be aware of the disadvantages though.
Regardless of our type of delivery, there are some qualities of speaking that we should always remember:
Our speaking is a critical opportunity to represent our business. We should master each method of delivery well.
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