Teleprompter Speech Coaching Tip #1
The Impromptu Speech
Whether you are an amateur or a professional, one of the most nerve-racking things is to be asked to deliver a public speech without prior notice. The impromptu speech can unnerve even the best and most experienced public speaker. Being caught off guard and expected to deliver quality material, can cause anxiety and in some extreme cases a panic attack. If you were to find yourself at a work conference and asked to stand in for a colleague who suddenly fell ill and couldn’t make the presentation, could you do it?
Would you be prepared and able to handle it if you found yourself in that situation?
My first tip to anyone who finds himself/herself in such an unexpected circumstance may seem simple but it is not. Train yourself to remain calm. You can start to be aware and change behavior by learning from what may seem to be an insignificant incident. Let’s say you’re stuck in traffic and you’re running late to an important appointment. Many of us would get angry and frustrated. Despair and other emotions might take control. Clearly, this is not ever helpful.
I have met people who have the enviable ability to remain in a calm state of mind even in crisis. In most cases the notion of “panicking” at the slightest unplanned and unexpected situation, is just a bad habit. Bad habits need to be eradicated and you should start now. This will not only help you deliver a good speech even if unprepared, but it will also help you to smile in the face of crisis under any circumstance.
There are a few techniques you can rely on if you do find yourself being asked to hold an impromptu speech or presentation.
- Take a pen and a piece of paper, an envelope, a napkin, anything you can find in your vicinity. This will give you a sense of control. You now have a few moments to jot down the main premise of the speech or presentation and organize your thoughts.
- Don’t hesitate to use this opportunity to break the ice with your audience. Feel free to share that you are not as prepared as you would be under normal circumstances. Take a few minutes to jot down a quick outline of what you would like to say. Ask your listeners to bear with you for a moment.
- Write down the main points you want to make in your speech. Have a clear beginning and a concise conclusion. In the acting world when asked to audition, the first lesson every actor learns is to always remember the first and last sentence by heart. The introduction is what sets up “the scene” and the conclusion is what brings the story “home”. The end of your speech is what people will remember the most, so make your last point count.
- Be confident and know that you are in charge. The aim, if you will, of your speech/presentation is within your grasp and your direction. Begin with the introductory sentence and then elaborate with as many points as you can to support the main idea. Focus on the conclusion. Reiterate the most salient points and bring the presentation home, as it were. When a speech is delivered with self-assurance it keeps listeners engaged and eager to hear more.
- Another great way to soothe the nerves is to involve the audience. Ask and answer questions. Don’t be afraid to interact with individuals. Ultimately, a presentation is quite simply a group of people coming together for a single purpose. You happen to have the microphone! This reciprocal relationship makes them more attentive and more likely to remember what you said. You’ve elevated them. They are important. It validates both.
It is of value and crucial to remember that we are all human. Most people have empathy for someone caught off guard. There is a recognition that things are not entirely in our own hands. Strive to do your best when in such a crisis situation. You will find that most people will be extremely supportive.
Good luck and until next time!
Personal Career Update:
I recently had the incredible opportunity to perform for a Fashion Event at The Plaza Hotel right here in NYC. Performing my own original music under its roof was a dream come true and the experience of a lifetime. It remains indelibly etched in my heart.
I was asked to stand-in for another singer on very short notice on the very afternoon of the scheduled performance. Naturally, I experienced a slight bout of anxiety. Under normal circumstances, I would have liked to prepare at my own pace for a week before such an occasion. I would have given some thought to hair, makeup and would have taken pains to select just the right dress. I accepted immediately. I welcomed the opportunity.
I was thankful for the challenge. I literally told myself that I was ready and that I could rely on my previous stage experience. I made it happen. It was scary and nerve-racking but also incredible and unforgettable.
I had to adapt. I didn’t have a sound check. I didn’t get a full rehearsal. I knew, however, that I could trust my instincts. I had experience. I stayed calm. I pulled it off and it was exhilarating.
Over the course of my career, I have learned many lessons – prominent among them is this: Don’t be afraid to take a risk. True magic happens when, although nervous and scared, you step outside your comfort zone and risk it all!