1) Imagine your boss walks into your office and announces that he needs you to present to senior management on a subject within half an hour.
2) Visualize yourself just about to present a PowerPoint presentation and as you are setting up, the projector bulb pops and you have no notes or handouts to guide you.
3) Envision you are at a meeting discussing a project and its benefits, but the non-verbal body language from the audience indicates that they are not getting it. You know that you need to quickly come up with a more visual explanation technique to clarify and illuminate your points.
4) Picture yourself standing beside a friend or family member who is asking you to deliver a eulogy at a funeral in two days time.
Reading these statements may make many of you feel gut wrenching stress. Public speaking is fearful for many people, and short notice public speaking can cause people to have extreme anxiety, loss of sleep, and loss of the ability to keep thoughts lined up.
Twenty years ago, I stood up at my wedding and spoke briefly at the reception. “Briefly” is the key word! Back then I was scared to death of public speaking, and on the most important day of my life, I was unprepared. I held the microphone with sweaty, nervous hands and said my high speed thanks in what seemed like one long breath. I did not thank the Hungarian community properly at the reception. There were many of my wife’s family friends who had gone all out to help us put a wedding together on a very tight budget. If only I had known what I know now about public speaking, I could have thanked them properly.
As time went on, I discovered that I needed better speaking skills to help me succeed as an engineer. I joined a public speaking club. Public speaking soon became a passion, and I started to excel and have fun.
About 8 years ago, I discovered a speech development technique that has been invaluable to me. I use it to develop my own speeches and presentations and help other people gain clarity on how to make a speech effective. The side benefit is that it also helps me memorize the structure of my speech. The technique I am talking about is Mind-Mapping, and it has been around since the 1960’s. Tony Buzan is credited with being the “inventor” of this process.
The photo shows my speech writing book with simple mind maps to help guide me through my speech development process. This book also contains the Mind-Map for the three speeches that brought me to the finals of the 2004 World Championship of Public Speaking in Reno, Nevada.
In this article, I will outline its use specifically for the purpose of short notice speeches or presentations. If you want additional information on this subject, go to http://www.imindmap.com/.
STEP 1 – Clearly identify what you are going to talk about.
If you cannot describe what you are going to speak about with the amount of words that would fit on the back of a business card, you may not be focused enough yet. Make sure you clearly identify what you want to talk about before you proceed. What is your primary subject matter? Let’s use a speech I developed on multi-cultural diversity.
STEP 2 – Clearly identify what main points you want to make
STEP 3 – Identify what stories you could use to support and illustrate your points
STEP 4 – Identify what order you want to put your information and stories in. Determine what would be the most impactful opening, and how you could tie the ending back to the opening story.
Depending on the amount of time available, you could now either:
1) Write out the speech, hone it, and practice it out loud (If your speech needs to be a specific length, use the rule-of-thumb of 700 to 800 words = about 7 minutes of speech time).
2) Practice it out loud using the mind map as a mind jogging memorization tool
Keep practicing until you get it to flow without stumbling. I practice out loud while driving my car, and once I have the speech outline, transitions, and stories in my brain, I then practice in my home with a focus on my hand gestures and physical movement that will enhance the speech. Stories are typically easy to remember, spend most time memorizing the transitions (from point to point and from story to story). Make sure your opening and ending are practiced so they are flawless.
FINAL NOTE – sometimes my Mind-Maps get complicated. Here is one I used for a training session; I call it my Mind-Map on steroids!