Public Speaking: Good Advice
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
Some years ago I came upon a chapter in a book by Harvey MacKay with the intriguing title “Never Give The Same Speech Once.” At the time I was a university professor giving lectures every week and an occasional speech on a variety of topics. That chapter changed the way I thought about how to give a speech, and led to the launch of my professional speaking career.
What I took away from the chapter was to prepare thoroughly for any speech I give. But I took it a step further. I created one speech that I began to give over and over. Since then I have given it hundreds of times —“Lessons Learned From High Achievers.” (It is also an audio book.)
Making the same speech more than once has given me the chance to make refinements and give it polish.
Here are excerpts from the chapter that changed my speaking career, with appreciation to Harvey MacKay, whom I personally thanked not too long ago.
“It makes no sense to put all that work getting a speech ready without getting a firm fix on the whole point of the exercise: audience reaction.”
“There’s a reason Broadway shows don’t open on Broadway. They open out of town because it gives the company a chance to gauge the effects of their material on an audience. These pros know that there is simply no way to know what works and what doesn’t by reading the lines to themselves. You have to have that crucible of live reaction.”
“If you give speeches, doesn’t it make sense to do what you do with every other major product your company produces? Do some market research, take the show on the road, try out those corny jokes, hone that material until you’re positive you’ve got a winner. It will not only improve the text, it will also improve your own performance because you have confidence that what you’re saying will generate the right response.”
Excerpted from Harvey Mackay, “Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive,” page 241, 242.