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[Speaking-Out-Loud August 2015]How to avoid gulp and gabble speech openings
August 04, 2015
In this Issue
Have you ever got up to speak and got the introduction wrong? So wrong
... your audience is stunned?
So wrong ... your audience is stunned?
Those expressions on faces changing from polite interested attention to puzzled rolling eyeball disbelief are a bad memory, one I still feel embarrassed about.
Unlike many bad memories, I don't want to push this one into a dark closet and slam the door. I want to keep it in the open where I can see it.
The cringing, hang-my-head-in-shame error was this. I was invited to talk to real estate agents (realtors) about writing sales copy. That was all good and fitting. I'd done the research and preparation, with ONE exception. I had not prepared an opening line or introduction to lead into the body of the presentation.
Gradually the hall filled up and hushed. I was introduced and, it was my turn. I remember looking at my notes, at the audience and then announcing boldly: "Writing good sales copy is like writing poetry because they both used figurative language."
The rest, as they say, was history.
It isn't masochistic perversity that keeps this memory fresh. It's the lessons I learned.
Know your audience
What did a bunch of realtors want with poetry? Not a lot. Nothing. They'd been told they were coming to a session on writing ad copy.
While the comparison was apt it was totally inappropriate. I immediately lost credibility and spent the rest of the time anxiously scrabbling to make up for the gaffe. Impossible. It didn't work but I tried anyway.
These days I KNOW whom I'm talking to. Before a presentation or speech I find out as much as I can about the audience. The questions I ask are:
Collectively these can be put in the basket called building rapport and that forms the foundation of good speech preparation.
Hard on the heels of understanding who I am talking to, I no longer trust myself to be spontaneously clever and intuitive opening a speech. I carefully consider what would be appropriate and rehearse until I have it nailed.
Of course, I realize most of you are too sensible to need these reminders but just in case ...You can learn more about what I learned by stunning my audience. You'll find them here.
A round up of pages, either revamped with added information or new on the site.
The New Yorker - The Mouth is Mightier than the Pen. I can spend many a happy hour browsing around the New Yorker finding interesting material and this article about "the sound of intellect" is a stimulating gem!
Comment, share & connect
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Until next time,
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