All of us at some point in our speaking career have to give a speech, but don’t have the time to prepare. Illness, family problems, extra time needed at work – these are all valid reasons to be in a situation where you have to speak, but haven’t prepared like you normally would want. What do you do?
The answer is to first ask yourself this question. “In what area am I an expert?” Then develop a speech surrounding that level of expertise. Answer the basic questions, who what, where, when, how and why. Then just add an opening line and a conclusion, and you have your speech.
Last night I saw a speaker put together a masterful speech about why fellow club members should consider entering speech contests. He put this speech together during the meeting. He was actually spending all of his time preparing for a speech contest so this speech didn’t get his normal preparation time. He was so successful because he spoke from his level of expertise – entering speech contests. He told us that he has entered eighteen speech contests and so he was clearly an expert in this area.
Another speaker that same night gave a great speech about his house being burglarized and the story of how the police finally caught the burglar. This was speech which needed very little preparation since it was just a retelling of the story as if he were sitting around a breakfast table. He was the expert because this was something he lived through.
One tip to remember is never tell you’re audience that you haven’t prepared for your speech. If you tell the story as an expert – they’ll never know. In fact, you have put in many hours, if not years into the preparation of your speech.
Being an expert doesn’t mean that you need a PhD. It does mean that you’ve either put quite a bit of time and energy into this one area or it’s something that you personally have experienced. I encourage everyone to become an “expert” in one area. It really doesn’t matter what it is – just something that interests you.
And the next time someone is looking for a last minute speaker say, “Just give me five minutes.”