About 99 percent of what people say is impromptu, which is defined as without preparation or advance thought. Virtually everything that people say - after-dinner speeches, discussions, product announcements, answers to questions during job interviews, new business pitches, media interviews, and arguments - is off the cuff.
Now, to help readers build up their confidence when asked to just "say a few words," writer and communications coach Anne Cooper Ready offers them a useful combination of encouragement and preparation to face impromptu speaking in Off the Cuff. In an easy-to-reference guidebook that helps readers put words together that motivate, direct, entertain, and get a point across, Ready teaches both the basic and advanced skills that are needed to solve communication challenges ranging from apologies and meetings to introductions and rallying the troops.
Delivering ways to speak easily, effectively and fearlessly, Off the Cuff provides readers with tips, tactics and strategies for successfully navigating through situations when communication skills are crucial, and helps them prepare for those moments when time to prepare is at a minimum.
Integrity and Authenticity
Imagine the pressure on an evangelist or president facing the flock during a breaking sex scandal. Integrity and authenticity go a long way in establishing your credibility, because the lens doesn't lie, whether it is in the eyes of your audience or on the front of a camera.
Lee Iacocca said that being honest is the best foundation - to be clear and candid about what must be accomplished and what sacrifices may be involved. And in the case of a serious problem, you cannot do much to put out a brush fire if you first insist there isn't one.
If you are in a relatively formal role in your professional life, trying to be folksy on a platform can be risky. You can also be a fish out of water if you are naturally casual and try to be formal because this is an "important" occasion. If no one ever laughs at your jokes, don't try to reverse the trend while standing before an audience. Be yourself - and be the best you can be at being you.
Know the Media
Know what presentation media you'll be using and how to handle it well. Go to the speech site days before and be very early on the day of the event to get the lay of the land and take care of logistics. You will be the one who looks bad when the monitor doesn't work, a microphone doesn't project, or a podium light flickers. Don't leave anything to chance or to somebody else. It is better to use an old-fashioned slide projector or even an overhead with ease than to fumble with a computer-based presentation you don't know how to operate.
If your medium is the media, offer to be a media resource as an expert in your field. Cultivate media contacts. Make yourself available for background or a sound bite when there's a breaking story.
Master the Moment
To successfully master the moment, you must master your material. Adapt it to the level of the audience and have it organized in a way that will lead your audience to respond. When the material is second nature to you, this allows you the freedom to work the room and the audience. Keep your facts and processes in order.
Master the message by keeping whatever you are presenting simple and organized around a single idea, preferably a provocative, profound or at least cogent thought to make it worth the audience's time. Presentations with several competing ideas only compete for the attention of an audience that is no longer clear about what is important. Copyright © 2004 Soundview Executive Book Summaries