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April 2006 - Reading Your Talk: Part 3 – Practice

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.

April 2006

Reading Your Talk--Part 4: Presentation

We’ve discussed how to prepare and practice the manuscript talk; what about presenting it?  First, decide either to hold the manuscript in front of you with one hand, leaving the other hand free to gesture; or place the manuscript on a speaker’s stand or table, allowing you to gesture with both hands.  In either case keep the manuscript high enough so the eyes, not the head, drop to the paper. Here are some other things to consider.

  • Don’t explain why you chose to read the talk.  If you have prepared well, no apologies are necessary.

  • Be willing to change wording here and there as you go along if it helps you sound more conversational and enables you to communicate more effectively.

  • Consider adding last minute comments only if they help you communicate or relate to the audience.  Don’t deviate far from the manuscript you have worked so hard to prepare.

  • Be flexible enough that you can shorten the talk if necessary.  In other words, know what parts you can omit.

  • Let pauses be dictated by ideas.  Pause where you would normally do so in informal conversation.

  • Concentrate on the meaning and ideas rather than on individual words.

  • Read with the sincerity, enthusiasm, directness, and force that is proper to the occasion.

  • Use gestures and look directly at the audience when executing them.

A manuscript talk is not as someone once said, merely “an essay on its hind legs.”  The manuscript should be written and read in a conversational tone rather than in formal English.  A talk is meant to be heard, not read.  If you prepare well, practice diligently, and attend to the factors of delivery, you can usually read very acceptably and spontaneously.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama
jkline@klinespeak.com

April 2006 - Reading Your Talk: Part 3 – Practice
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