Tonight I gave a 9-minute speech on the subject of planned spontaneity, or the art of being ready to speak off-the-cuff. This was based on my post a couple of weeks ago on that subject. However, I modified it enough that I wanted to post the overview, since the speech included some new material.
This is the format for the notes that I used, so it may look a bit strange…hey, it’s how I work.
Have you found yourself having to answer a question at work and you weren’t prepared? How about at home? Public speaking can be scary all by itself, but talking to your boss unexpectedly may be even more scary.
Tonight you’ll learn some ways to improve your preparation, how to avoid some common mistakes and some keys to speaking with confidence, and you’ll be able to execute some planned spontaneity.
There are three keys to being successful at those unplanned speaking situations. First, you need to know yourself. While this includes understanding concepts like using your voice and gestures, it can be different in those hallway drive-by situations, and you’ll learn how…and why.
Second, you need to know your message. What topics are you likely to be asked in impromptu situations, and how much detail do you need to know?
Finally, much like in any scenario you need to know your audience. Having the right data on a project may be important, but if you flood your boss with irrelevant information, it could be worse than saying “I’ll get back to you”.
So, let’s get started. In any environment, you want to be aware of how you communicate with those around you. To better understand that, and be able to develop and use your skills, let’s talk about the first key, knowing yourself…
A – Some aspects the same as speaking
– Anecdote – story about using toastmaster skills on stage, compared to the hallway
– “gesture so hard you take out a passerby”
– don’t want to seem like a lifeless robot either
Reflect: “Can you see where some of these skills could apply to any situation?”
Sale: “Practice your skills for the big room and the small hall, just to be safe!”
B – Some more unique to one-on-one surprises
– Analogy – Hallway, seated in the cube, bosses office, conference room
Reflect: “Do you like the idea of making your style fit the environment?”
Sale: “As you work on these skills, it will help you get your message across.”
Know Your Message
A – What do you get asked?
– Activity – “Guys, have you ever fielded a question from your wife, like ‘how does this dress look?’”
– Analogy – answering questions from the boss – avoid I hope and I’m waiting!!
— Better: “I contacted Chuck this morning and I’ll have an update to the status by tomorrow morning.”
Reflect: “Do you know what you’d say to some common questions in your work and home life?”
Sale: “Find the message you need to have ready, and you’ll feel better prepared.”
B – Prioritize your queue
– Anecdote– Answering the bedtime question on dating from my 12-year old son
Reflect: “Are there questions that need to be higher in your queue?”
Sale: “Getting caught off guard is as much about knowledge as it is priority, know what you need to know when you need to know it”
Know Your Audience
A – The message is delivered differently to different audiences
– Analogy – Comparing the dating story answer from my son to my wife
– Analogy – Comparing project status for my boss, my Program Manager, and my team
Reflect: “do you know how you’d adjust you status report for a different audience?”
Sale: “It may seem natural to tell your boss everything, but if you go with the least you can pass on, it will be appreciated.”
Conclusion: You will find yourself having to answer those unexpected questions at work. It’s inevitable. Now you know some ways to improve your preparation, avoid common mistakes and keys to speaking with confidence.
Are you ready to know yourself, know your message and know your audience? In any environment, you want to be aware of where you’ll have to communicate, what you’ll need to say, and how you’ll deliver the answer. As you better understand those facts, you’ll be in a better position to execute that planned spontaneity!