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Chapter 28. Effective Presentation Skills > When asked to speak unexpectedly

When asked to speak unexpectedly

  1. Give a few introductory remarks. Give yourself time to get organized. Make some general introductory comments, such as, “Thanks, I’m pleased to be here today to help provide some information. I didn’t plan a formal presentation but would be happy to describe the project we’ve been working on.” Do not apologize for not having a prepared speech.

  2. Develop a clear preview sentence of your main points. Verbalize to yourself and your audience what your key points are. From the example above Jill could simply state, “I would like to tell you about how we started this project, where it stands, and where we plan to take it.” This is a time-ordered sequence.

  3. Deliver the body of the presentation. Talk through each point from your preview sentence. (In Jill’s example; past, present, and future). Establishing an organizational pattern and knowing where you are going will take some of the stress out of the situation. If what you are speaking about is controversial, first acknowledge the opposition’s case and follow with your viewpoint so you end by summarizing your position.

  4. Review the main points. Reinforce the main ideas by briefly restating them. Something like, “I’ve tried in these past few minutes to give you an overview of how this project started, where it is now, and where we think it will go.”

  5. Conclude the presentation. Conclude with a strong, positive statement. Following our example, “I hope to attend next month’s meeting to report a satisfactory conclusion to our project. I would be happy to take any questions at this time.”

If you find yourself regularly being called upon to contribute at meetings, you will find many helpful ideas in Effective Presentation Skills; A Practical Guide for Better Speaking, Revised Edition, by Steve Mandel (Crisp Publications, 1993). The above impromptu speaking guide was adapted from this book.



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