The Lazy Man’s Way to Speaking

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Last Monday, I gave my first speech for a while.

The project title was “Your Body Talks”. I was supposed to use gestures and body language to good effect. I already had the topic for my speech, so I retro-fitted it to the project.

My topic idea was self-help and self-teaching books, and how I’d found them interesting but wasn’t sure they helped all that much.

The inspiration came from a story my Mum told me. She’d read a book on improving your memory. It was very interesting, she said, but she can’t remember a single thing about it – can’t remember the author, the title or anything it said.

Which I found pretty funny.

When I gave the speech, I stole Mum’s story, changing it to make it sound like it had happened to me.

I also talked about the “Lazy Man’s Way to Riches,” a book I’d read as a teenager and the first “self-help” book I’d ever read. It promised to make you rich just by visualizing the rewards. Now, I’ve tried this out and, indeed, here I am over 2 decades later – I’m still lazy but I’m not rich.

A real aim I had for this speech was to try to spend less time preparing. For the previous speeches, I’d spent most of the day before preparing. This strikes me as quite a lot of time to devote to a five minute speech – I should be able to do it with less. That was one reason – and then, of course, I am just plain lazy.

This time, I tried to cut the preparation down to just 2 hours. That might sound a bit severe. It certainly made the actual giving of the speech more challenging.

What’s more (or, er, less), I wrote the body of the speech on the morning of the speech itself. I spent about an hour on it. I then spent an hour after work rehearsing and checking the timing.

Of course, it wasn’t as carefully scripted as my previous speeches. I had just 3 small cards of notes rather than my usual 6. Still, I am getting a bit more confident, and I hoped I’d be able to make the speech more “off the cuff” and natural than my previous efforts.

In the event, I felt it went fairly well as a speech in its own right, though it didn’t fit the project objectives well enough. I could’ve thought about some more gestures and given them more emphasis – and practise.

Also, I got a bit rushed towards the end of the speech; my close was not strong. That’s something I’ve been working on – a strong close – but I’m not there yet. If you have something clear, or witty, to say at the end of the speech, it is easy to wrap it up at any time. It gives you more confidence, as the speech moves on. Right now, I’m good at going over and over the speech start before I get up there, but I’m not so good at preparing, or delivering, the close.

Still, overall it went fairly well and when it was voted “Best Humour” I was delighted.

Interestingly, I got talking with David and Pravin during the break and when it comes to preparation they seem to be thinking along the same lines. Unlike many of our other club members, they too have tried to cut the preparation time down. David aims to use just an hour to prepare – which is amazing, given how well his speeches flow.

That is where I want to be – at least for the short speeches. I feel I should be able to define a clear period of time which is sufficient for most of them.

Yes, of course there will be speeches which require more preparation – even more research. For example, I have something special in mind for project 7 – on using visual aids. That is another story.

But I would like to develop this skill to the point where I find it effortless, where I can get up and give a coherent, structured speech fluidly with the minimum of preparation. I want to get to the point where I find it natural, and where I always enjoy it.

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