Today is the day! You’ve planned, practiced and prepared for this conference presentation. You are ready, even excited, to speak. You arrived at your venue thirty minutes early, checked the room, technical equipment and the podium. You have your notes and water (handouts, back up thumb drive) ready. You freshened up in the restroom and are poised to welcome 100 audience members into the space. It’s perfect. But, the clock ticks closer to “tee time,” and your organizing host is nowhere in sight. It’s reasonable to expect someone. After all you sent your “how would you like to be introduced” paragraph a month ago. But, the audience is in their seats. The time has come. What do you do?
A. Run into the hall screaming for a conference representative.
B. Start your presentation by apologizing to the audience and explain the mix-up.
C. Calmly announce that you need five more minutes and then leave the room to find the conference host.
D. Breathe and begin.
Having personally struck out on the first three choices, I urge you to choose D. Calm, in control, and in the room is what your audience needs from you. Hopefully, you have a copy of the three or four line introduction you already wrote. If not, take 30 seconds to write out the 4Ws and you are on your way.
WELCOME: “Good morning! On behalf of the National Speaker’s Association of America, I am delighted to welcome you to today’s session “How to be a better impromptu speaker.”
WHO: My name is Charlotte Dietz.
WHAT: I’ve been coaching people to be genuine and effective speakers for 20 years.
WHY: I know many of you are here today because you find yourself more and more in situations requiring you to speak off the cuff. You want strategies to effectively communicate and deal with this stress. Let me begin by…and so you begin.
The beauty of this “problem” is that ninety-percent of the introductions I hear are too long and self congratulatory anyway. I am exhausted and turned off even before the speaker has opened their mouth. Long lists of degrees, famous clients, articles published even “He changed my life” quotes from clients. UGH. Please: short, simple, credible and relevant.