We've all sat through painstaking speeches in which the speakers were clearly not prepared. As painful as it is for the presenter to stumble through, it's painful for the audience, too. And in my opinion, nothing is worse than listening to someone who sounds monotone and like they are reading off of notes the entire time.
When you're speaking publicly, you want your performance to seem as natural as possible while giving the illusion that you're speaking organically. When you over-rehearse or rely too heavily on our script, your performance can lose elements of its life, such as inflection on certain points or, worse, your personality altogether.
Oppositely, when you don't have a lot of time to rehearse, your moment in the spotlight can come crashing down quickly, leaving you feeling defeated and ultimately jeopardizing your reputation and credibility. But don't worry, some of the most powerful speeches happen when most of your content is delivered passionately and straight from your heart.
When you're put on the spot and don't have a lot of time to rehearse, use these tips to make yourself as prepared as possible.
Memorize your facts.
If you try your best to memorize your speech word-for-word in a short period of time, it can be nearly impossible to pull off! Chances are, if you're making a speech about a specific topic, you have been selected because you are considered to be an expert in that field. If you find yourself with not much time to prepare, focus your time on memorizing important and useful facts. Organize these facts into a logical flow and use it as an outline to lead you through your presentation. Once you get onstage, you can transform these facts into sentences and deliver a credible speech jam packed full of information.
For example, if you were giving a speech about airplane flight patterns over your country, memorize interesting facts such as how many planes are in the air at a time, what the largest airports in the world are, or how much money the top three airlines make in a year.
Arrange your memorized facts into a logical chronology that makes sense to your audience. Don’t worry about memorizing the facts word-for-word, but be sure to memorize the correct information. If you forget a fact, skip it -- don't make something up on the spot.
Tell a story.
Storytelling is one of the best ways to remember content because, simply, every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. When presenting your speech, if you lose your place, knowing “your story” can help you regain footing.
Try to turn your entire presentation into a story and deliver it full of life, just like you would if you were excited to be telling friends.
If your speech is about something not-so-entertaining, like cancer, perform your speech so that you follow a day in the life of someone with cancer or the story of a person being diagnosed, treated, and now live cancer-free.