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And Now to Speak a Few Words

Now to Speak a Few Words..May we invite Mr/Ms (Your Name).....

{Oh No ! there they go again. Why can’t they tell me to come ready to speak ? Do they think that I'm the inventor of words ? }

Hello there to all those who have ever experienced those moments of surprise where you are asked to share a few words and they expect it to be more than just a few words and in fact a speech by itself.

These few tips might just save your life by getting your act together in those moments where all the time you have to prepare is the time you walk to the stage.

So here is what I would do if I had to face that awkward situation.

1. Walk at medium pace to the stage

Some people tend to think that one should walk really fast and get on the stage. Truth is, when the speaker is seen to be rushing to a stage the audience might get the impression he is in a hurry or just wanting to get done with this (which may well be the case). A nice calm medium pace walk will give your audience the reassurance that this guy is confident and also enough time for the next few steps.

2. Audience Audience Audience

 A successful speech is all about relating to the audience. So as you walk up to the stage the only thing that’s needs to be in your mind is the audience. The following questions could help.

  • Who are they ?

  • Why are they at this event ?

  • Are they students / professionals ? Youth / Adults ?

  • How do they see me compared to them ? (Self-Perception)

I believe the last question is of a high vitality. You need to understand how they see you. For example if it is an event where you are recognized for your performance by the seniors of the company, in your speech you cannot be seen to be over advising them on how to achieve things because most likely they have achieved a lot more. But if it is a case of your students listening to you as a professional guest speaker, then you need to be more authoritative.

3. Be grateful

It always helps to be thankful to those who invited you for the speech (even though you may have not really enjoyed it) so start by thanking the organizers. The audience perceives you as a more grateful person which builds a good connection with the audience since they begin to like you.

4. Wear a Smile at All Times

Have you seen people full of smiles as they speak ? Guess what. It’s a MASK. Most people find it a nervous situation speaking in front of large crowds. And it is not easy to smile. But they SMILE. Because when you smile, the audience is reassured – This guy knows what he is going to Talk About. (One thing we can learn from the great communicator Barrack Obama is, his smile)

5. Tell them – Who you Are

Don’t expect the audience to remember you are. There will be many in the audience that goes “Who is this guy ?” no sooner you get to the stage. So be humble enough to say who you are. Unless of course you are celebrity and the whole world knows about you. Even then, saying who you are shows your humility which is always an admired quality of a person.

6. Share your Stories

Sometimes people think that their speech should be a summary of speeches /lives of others. Not quite. People already know about Gandhi, Mandela, Kumar Sangakkara etc. What they need to know about is YOU. Your story ? What have you faced ? How did you get to where you are today ? Now, that’s not that difficult right. Just find the right story from your life to match the circumstances or the audience. It should be something the audience can relate. If addressing a batch of aspiring new graduates, tell them how you felt on that similar day and what decisions you made in life afterwards. Your story counts.

7. Ending Message

This is what people remember. What you said at the end. That one final 4 to 5 word phrase or message you left them with. Make it memorable. Make it simple. Sometimes people make the mistake of saying “So Finally” or “In conclusion” and they speak for another 3 minutes or more. When you utter those words, beyond that it should be less than 30 seconds and a brief message of 4 to 5 words to end with.

So there you go. How I handle moments of unexpected invitations for a few words. Just enjoy while you are out there and remember it is no rocket science. Follow the above 7 steps and you shall rock your audience. 

And now to speak a few words…

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