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Throw Away the Speech


Techniques Public speaking > Speaking Tips > Throw Away the Speech

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Get out your prepared speech. Look a bit nervous. Start to read it. Then make an excuse and put it down (if you want to be dramatic, you could even rip it up). They say something like 'What I really want to say' and launch into an apparently-impromptu, impassioned speech.

You can start the speech a bit uncertainly, but get soon enough into a more confident delivery. Make your passion and interest the force that makes it work. Do not fall into a monotone. Also do not talk uncertainly or too casually.

The actual speech you make can vary with the situation. You can use the platform to talk about something completely different. You can tell stories. You can even engage in conversation with audience members.


A presenter at a business conference says 'You've probably had your fill with Powerpoint today. You've got my slides and can read them later, so let me tell you a true story...'. The presenter then sits on the table and launches into an engaging tale.

A person accepting a business award starts by reading a paper set of notes. They then stop and say 'This is not working. I want to take this moment to ask you, the great and the good, to think about the young people today who will not have the certain career that many of you have had the good fortune to experience...' They then talk about the need to recognize young talent, not just the people at the top of their careers. 


When you bring out the speech notes, people will think 'Oh no, it's going to be boring'. When you get a bit nervous, they will perhaps feel some empathy towards you. When you then ignore your notes, they will be initially worried that you will not be able to carry it off, but then when you do, they will be whole-heartedly with you.

In other words, this method plays with their emotion, getting them fully engaged so they will pay full attention when you make your speech. Once you have their attention, you of course must keep it. This can be done with interesting, challenging and even provocative off-piste talk.

A variant of this is to abandon Powerpoint slides and do something different, for example real telling stories or drawing on a flipchart.

When you do this, it must come over as a genuine impromptu speech and not a practiced and smooth event. It must also not be unsteady or casual. This is a tricky path to walk, but if you get it right it will be a very powerful performance (and indeed, every speech is a performance).

This method is used a great deal by people accepting awards who use it to talk about social issues, moan about the industry or otherwise get a word in for whatever is concerning them at the moment.

See also



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