How to Say a Few Words When You are not Prepared

June 22, 2011

by Sandra Zimmer

Speaking in groups and meetings is an essential skill for every business professional. You are expected to be able to share your ideas, expertise and experience to contribute to your companyís success. If you canít speak up and speak out, you hit a glass ceiling past which you canít advance in your company. So, how do you prepare to speak when you are not prepared and they ask you to say a few words at your department meeting?

I advise my clients to create a meaningful message template that is unique to each individual. A meaningful message template is a brief one-minute talk that articulates the message you were born to deliver or the one for which you want to be known. Your unique message should be one for which you have passion and one for which you are willing to take a stand because you believe in it. It should be a universal message that has truth no matter what.

Spend some quiet time thinking about the universal truth that is most important for you. Write a one minute talk that expresses your highest thoughts that you would be willing to share in a business setting. Practice your meaningful message template until it rolls off your tongue effortlessly.

When you are asked to say a few words, use your message ideas to focus your thoughts about the topic at hand. It anchors your thoughts when you have to speak without much preparation.

Some tips for using your template message are:

  1. Use your message template to deliver a meaningful message not just a response.
  2. When saying a few words, start with the current situation and weave your template message ideas into a brief talk about the current situation.
  3. Speak about what you do know, donít worry about what you donít know.
  4. Use your template message often. You do not have to create new material every time you talk.
  5. Think of the message template as your cheat sheet. It will help make impromptu speaking easier

Aside from the obvious help a meaningful message template gives when speaking impromptu, it also helps establish your leadership platform. Use it often to develop your reputation as a leader.


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