Just talk!

Many speakers, especially novice speakers, are better off the cuff than speaking with prepared remarks. Everyone sounds like a human when they speak off the cuff, but it takes practice to sound like a human when giving prepared remarks. I suffered through a 20-minute long speech by a CEO-finance type, full of platitudes like "we invest for the long term" and "a good leader makes smart decisions." Then the session was opened up for questioning and he became much more interesting, fielding questions about hiring, his company's position in Yahoo, his current investment strategy, etc. I'm not sure if he noticed the difference.

This is troublesome because if a speaker has an open format, he can choose to give a speech any way he wants. The question-and-answer format is a subset of the open talk. But when you give people an open format they will choose to deliver a boring speech.

I note that TV profiles usually have the guest responding to questions but with the questions edited out. The other solution may be tojust pick arbitrary, specific parts of your story or your company and talk about those. As usual, getting more specific leads to better results.

So the next time you have to present something, just talk! It's scary at first, there will be a lot of ums, and you might forget to mention some stuff, but it's okay because you actually sound and look like a human being. And don't forget to end your remarks before you actually think you should.

Addendum: No one I know plans out conversations, but they can go on for hours, just thinking of things to say as they pop into your head.

Liked what you read? I am available for hire.

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  1. Pingback: CMC Silicon Valley Trip: Monday – Kevin Burke

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