Like most people, I’m not the biggest fan of public speaking.
But, I am a member of several social groups and organizations, so from time to time I get called upon to “say a few words” for a given occasion.
Knowing that this can potentially happen at any time, I always like to be prepared to rise to the occasion (and to avoid looking like a bumbling idiot in front of a crowd). Some time ago I began researching different methods, techniques, and formulas to make this easier. I figured, if I can keep a simple structure and maybe a few stories in my back pocket, then I’ll always be prepared with something to say.
One formula I’ve stuck with for a while is one I came across from Peter Khoury in an article titled “How to Give an Impressive Impromptu Speech”.
Peter lays out a simple, three-step formula for improvising a speech for just about any occasion.
It’s called the FAT method. Here’s how it works:
The first step is to express your feeling about the topic.
For a quick example, let’s pretend you unexpectedly win a company award at work and your colleagues expect you to give a short speech. Knowing the FAT method, you’re ready for this and you can begin with something like:
“I’m grateful and honored to receive this Employee of the Universe Award. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my team and leadership (only if this is true)…”
Now, throw in a short anecdote to give the audience something to relate to. In our example, you might say:
“I remember my early days working for Acme as a Trap Engineer. The roadrunners were still running around in droves and I never imagined I’d have such an impact through my work here. Now, we are closer than ever to eliminating the lot of them…”
T: Tie Back
Finally, tie everything back to the topic at hand and close it out.
“I want to thank our company leadership and my colleagues for being a great team. I appreciate the award and will always strive to ensure our continued success.”
Bonus Speaking Tips
That’s it! Super easy, and that’s the point. The great thing is that you can extend any or all of these components to make as long or as short of a speech as you want.
As a bonus, here are some additional tips for generally good speaking:
Be truthful. Don’t say “I’m really excited to be here…” if you’re not. Just say “I’m happy to talk to you today about…” if that’s how you feel.
Share what you know. You don’t have to make up a story just to have something to share. Your anecdote could be something even tangentially related to the topic, which is fine as long as you can tie it back in somehow at the end. An audience will love just about any story. It’s just human nature.
Practice is important. Don’t expect to be perfect with this the first time you try it. The more you volunteer to speak in front of people, the easier it becomes.
Have fun. You’re probably nervous because you think people are judging you. This is generally not true. Most folks won’t even remember specifically what you said (unless you pull out some real gems) by the next day. No need to stress.
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