How to Say a Few Words When You are not Prepared to Speak in Public

Speaking in groups and meetings is an essential skill for every business professional. You are expected to be able to share your ideas, expertise and experience to contribute to your company’s success. If you can’t speak up and speak out, you hit a glass ceiling past which you can’t advance in your company. So, how do you prepare to speak when you are not prepared and they ask you to say a few words at your department meeting?

I advise my clients to create a meaningful message template that is unique to each individual. A meaningful message template is a brief one-minute talk that articulates the message you were born to deliver or the one for which you want to be known. You could think of this like your leadership platform.  Just as politicians have a platform that they always speak about, you can use your message template to help you speak to groups at the drop of a hat. Your unique message should be one for which you have passion and one for which you are willing to take a stand because you believe in it. It should be a universal message that has truth no matter what. And it should help you direct the people you are addressing.

Spend some quiet time thinking about the universal truth that is most important for you. Write a one-minute talk that expresses your highest thoughts that you would be willing to share in a business setting. Practice your meaningful message template until it rolls off your tongue effortlessly.

When you are asked to say a few words, use your message ideas to focus your thoughts about the topic at hand. It anchors your thoughts when you have to speak without much preparation.

Some tips for using your template message are:

  1. Use your message template to deliver a meaningful leadership message not just a response.
  2. When saying a few words, start with the current situation and weave your template message ideas into a brief talk about the current situation.
  3. Speak about what you do know, don’t worry about what you don’t know.
  4. Use your template message often. You do not have to create new material every time you talk.
  5. Think of the message template as your cheat sheet. It will help make impromptu speaking easier

Aside from the obvious help a meaningful message template gives when speaking impromptu, it also helps establish your leadership reputation. Use it often to develop your reputation as a leader.

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