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This Is What You Should Do When You Have To Give A Short Speech

This Is What You Should Do When You Have To Give A Short Speech

Lots of people are intimidated when faced with giving a short speech. Preparation is the key to overcoming any anxieties and delivering a successful presentation.

Get Back to Basics in Order to Find Your Key Message

If you are stuck at where to start writing your speech, try writing it as a letter to a friend. Now, find the key message in your letter and get rid of any extraneous information. Every stage of your speech should illustrate this key message. Being merciless in your editing will ensure a more powerful speech.

Everybody Loves a Good Story, Here’s How to Tell Yours

People love to hear stories. Use a good personal story to connect with your audience and deliver your message.

 

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Next to hunger and thirst, our most basic human need is for storytelling.

– Khalil Gibran

 

Good storytelling has innate patterns and elements.  Every story that you tell should have a main character, in this case, it should probably be you. Personal stories are the best ones to use for a short speech, this way the audience can relate to you.

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Next your story needs to have a conflict or problem, if you are talking about quitting smoking then you want to use a story about the struggle of battling this strong addiction. Each member of your audience has struggled with something in their own life. When you make it personal, they’ll feel your struggle and will be rooting for your success.

Then your story needs resolution. How did you stop smoking, and what did you change to see results? Finally, you want to wrap up the story so that it sends a clear message. Your message here should be the one thing that you want your audience to take away and remember.

Be Descriptive: Show, Don’t Tell Your Audience the Details

Just like in writing, it’s important to show your audience not spell out every detail for them. For example, don’t tell your audience you were “embarrassed” when you cheated and had a cigarette on your lunch break. Instead describe your reaction to the emotions, about “the flush that rose up your cheeks” when a colleague who came by your desk after lunch. You were certain they could smell the smoke.

Plan and Rehearse Your Material to Avoid Nerves on Speech Day

Create notecards to keep you on track with your speech. Make sure they are brief and easy to read. You’ll only want to glance at them, not read them. It’s important to know your subject and material thoroughly. You’ll be much more comfortable and your personality will shine through your speech when you aren’t struggling to remember the words.

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Practice in front of a mirror or, even better, in front of a video camera. Stand up while you practice and imagine yourself in the room where you’ll be giving your speech. Notice your posture and hand gestures. Standing up straight and tall will boost your authority. Plan your wardrobe for the speech. Be sure that what you are wearing is suitable for the venue and projects the desired image. If you are addressing business people, wear a suit.

Body Language:

  • Minimize hand gestures to maximize their impact
  • Don’t pace back and forth, it’s distracting for the audience
  • Use your eyes, connect with audience and judge engagement
  • Maintain a confident posture, shoulders back and head up
  • Clothing sets the tone for your speech

Speak Up, The People in the Back Can’t Hear You!

We tend to speak quietly when we are nervous. Speak as if you are talking to a person in the back of the room. It may feel uncomfortable or unnatural at first. That’s why it’s important to practice using your “speech” voice in advance.

Respect Your Audience By Being Mindful of Time Constraints

Most speeches have time constraints. Make sure you’ve timed your entire speech during practice. Studies have shown that most people are not very good at estimating times. On the day of your speech ask a friend or colleague time your speech and give you discreet cues, one minute before the end time and again at the end. Or set a silent timer on your phone and keep where you can easily glance at it. People will appreciate your respect for their time.

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Your time and effort in preparing for your short speech will pay off. Public speaking is a skill that you can learn and improve upon with practice. You might even find yourself seeking out speaking opportunities!

Featured photo credit: Nina Prentice giving welcome speech/British Embassy Rome via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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