Speak to Entertain

Kids' Stuff 052

Speech purpose:  entertain 

A very common speech purpose is “entertain.” Too often, “corny” replaces “entertainment” as the speech develops. A charming/vivacious/well-known speaker may decide to skip preparing and rehearsing and just “speak off the cuff.” These are known as amateurs.

Mark Twain said in 1879, “I … never could make a good impromptu speech without several hours to prepare it”

Even just responding to an invitation to “say a few words” should involve preparation; you did suspect you might be asked for your views, didn’t you? Celebrities, politicians and professional speakers have a repertoire of brief speeches they can adapt to an occasion, and they often plan their remarks and delivery in detail – just in case. They plan in detail if they’re likely to speak; analysis of occasion, message and audience.

For example, the MC – who’s your boss – knows you have joined Toastmasters. Depending on the time available, she may invite you to say a few words at the company picnic. “Duh, well, unprepared as I am  . . .” is a poor opening that reflects poorly on your TM training and education.

Before the party we can prepare a couple of 3 – 5 minute talks that address issues likely to be pertinent to the audience and occasion. For example, remarks about your division’s successful project, another presentation about the importance of celebrating with those you love and those you work with would be a good idea. Finally, maybe some remarks about the people who are “doing the heavy work” like the clerks, drivers or coders.

Each presentation can be roughed out, with good openings and closings crafted. If you’re called to speak, you can take a deep breath and launch an opening confident that you know where you’re going and have a killer closing. If you’re not mentioned, you’ve had a little practice preparing talks. Being prepared to speak is a win-win situation.

Ad-libbing insider stories or stammering about what a “great company this is” won’t get you any recognition as a speaker. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a Toastmaster for six months or six years – really, nobody cares how long you’ve been doing it. But being prepared is easy.

A good story to open, two or three main ideas, a closing that ties it all together – you’ve entertained the audience, impressed the boss and practiced your Toastmasters skills.

Preparation beats charisma almost every time – and short is better. (Remember that Lincoln spoke for only two minutes. We remember the Gettysburg address.)

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