A young reporter was interviewing an elderly Sir Winston Churchill. He complimented Sir Winston on his great oratorical skills. Sir Winston replied that it took a great deal of practice. Taken aback the young reporter qualified that he was referring more to the great statesman’s impromptu quips and remarks.

Sir Winston replied, “Ah, yes…that takes the most practice of all.”

The truth is, far too many speakers speak from their text and not from their heart and their mind. They do it because they fear the randomness of free thought and seek the control and security of the written word in front of them. More often than not, the written word in front of them becomes a shackle to their spontaneity that condemns their audience to a dull recital of mere words.

When Sir Winston said that impromptu speeches and remarks took the most practice of all he was not being clever or obtuse. He was merely stating a fact that more than eighty years of living had taught him. A fact that many of today’s business and political leaders have yet to learn.

One of Churchill’s most famous encounters came at a society party where it was obvious that he had been over-served by the wait staff. Taking offense at his condition, a matronly lady confronted him.

“Mr. Churchill, you are drunk!”

A wavering Sir Winston replied, “And you, Madam, are ugly.”

The woman summoned all her disdain and huffed, “Well…you are still drunk.”

Churchill smiled, “Yes…but I’ll be sober in the morning.”

The question is, just how impromptu was this exchange? Sir Winston Churchill had been to many parties before and had been known to consume more than his share of alcohol. No doubt he had been rebuked often without such a witty response. So perhaps, in one of his more enlightened and sober moments, this clever bon mot occurred to him and he was just waiting for an opportunity to use it. “Ah yes, that takes the most practice of all.”

Many an audience today would be most grateful if speakers could take a lesson about practicing spontaneity from Sir Winston. Certainly you should research your audience and your subject so that you have something intelligent and enlightening to offer. And, once you’ve concluded your research, you should write down your speech in a prepared text. You should embellish it with graphic imagery and memorable stories and even some pertinent quotes. But once you have honed the text to a clear and succinct

The Art of Being Speechless…page two

presentation of your thoughts and ideas, you should practice it to perfection, and then throw it away.

How do you practice to perfection? Not by reading your text over and over, hearing it in your mind as a droning monotone until you have it memorized. Real practice is passionate projection--pre-living the moment when you will deliver these words with excitement and drama. It’s imagining your audience’s enthusiastic response. The more you practice, the more you believe in your message and your ability to deliver it, until you and your message become one. This is much more than memorizing words…it’s pre-living your own success and your audience’s response.

Practicing to perfection confirms that you’ve done your work, you know your subject, you believe in what you are saying. That’s what gives great speakers the confidence to stand before an audience and say it…with power…and passion…and spontaneity. Refer to a discreet point form outline, if you must, or keep the text available as a reminder, but don’t stand up at the podium and read to your audience. It’s insulting. If all you’re doing is communicating information and no inspiration…then you could have simply distributed the text and the audience could have read it for themselves.

An audience doesn’t want your words…they want your ideas.

They don’t want to know what you think…they want to share what you feel and what you believe.

A speech is the most personal communication tool known to man. It is the transference of what is in the heart and mind of one individual into the hearts and minds of an entire audience. It’s not just heard…it’s seen and felt and believed. That is the power of the podium. And it’s a power that comes from within you…not from the pages of your text.

So if you want to truly exercise the power of the podium, practice, practice, practice…then throw your text away.

--D. B. Davies.

For more information on D. B. Davies and his new book, Podium Power! Sure-fire tips and techniques that will make you a more powerful, inspirational speaker. visit www.podiumpower.com

Author's Bio: 

D. B. Davies,

Executive Coach, Speechwriter and public speaking coach, communication

Author, "Standing Ovation or Polite Applause? The Executive Choice."
"Podium Power! Sure-fire tips and techniques that will make you a more
powerful, inspirational speaker."

For more information or to order a book visit: www.podiumpower.com