Have you ever watched the Oscar ceremonies or Grammy awards on TV? While you may applaud the hot new stars and the legends in the industry, I’m guessing that you’ve seen better acceptance speeches elsewhere. For the most part, the winners are repetitious, rambling, and sometimes irrelevant.
Obviously, being a winner does not necessarily make you a great speaker—or even a bearable one.
But just as with successful movie stars and singers, you as a successful entrepreneur will be called on from time to time to “say a few words.” The occasions vary: Accepting or presenting an award. Sharing your story of success with a group of wannabes. Kicking off a rally or meeting. Congratulating colleagues or staff on a job well done. Answering a client’s question. Responding to a relayed question from your boss before a larger group. Commemorating an anniversary. Celebrating a holiday with friends and family. The occasions are almost endless if you’re an outgoing sort of personality.
Ideally, someone will notify you of such events ahead of time so you can prepare. But often they don’t. That’s why you want to make sure you take matters into your own hands learn a simple technique for always being prepared even when you’re caught off-guard.
Understand that many people who seem to be speaking extemporaneously are not. They’ve prepared to be “spontaneous.” That is, they’ve learned a few evergreen comments for such occasions that they can tailor on the spot. Mark Twain is often quoted as saying, “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”
So even if you don’t receive notice to prepare before you’re called on to “say a few words,” you can follow a ready-made structure that will help you think on your feet in high-pressure moments. I suggest The LEAD Format™ for your extemporaneous comments.
Let’s be positive here and assume you’ve just won an award for top-tier sales in your region. The following will serve as an example of the LEAD Format™ as you “say a few words.”
The structure works particularly well for emceeing, presentations, or answering client or staff questions. The format provides enough flexibility for a 30-second, off-the-cuff comment or a 5-minute response to a question.
In either case, long or short, the structure guides your thinking and keeps your comments on track and moving forward. Just don’t get stuck in ramble mode, circling and circling and circling, looking for a place to land. Instead, remember The LEAD Format™ for those high-pressure, high-visibility, strategic opportunities to show how well you think on your feet.
Your star performance on stage as a communicator should rival your product or service in action!
Dianna Booher, CEO of Booher Research, is a bestselling author of 47 books, including her latest: Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done. She works with organizations to help them communicate clearly and with leaders to expand their influence by a strong executive presence.