This week, Escandar Group hosts guest blogger Mary Jo Bohr, principal of MJBohr Communication. An expert in writing remarks for all types of occasions, she shares some tips that can help in any setting.
I’ve been asked to say a few words. Now what?!?
The thought of speaking to a group – at a wedding, rehearsal dinner, retirement party, funeral, department meeting, company event … you name it – petrifies a lot of people. Yet, short of fleeing town or faking an appendectomy, we occasionally have to do it.
Here are some things to keep in mind the next time you’re called on to speak:
- Brevity is good … even when your material and delivery are terrific. Remember the adage, “Leave them wanting more.”
- Humor is great (except when it bombs or offends). Typically, humor is “safest” when it’s self-deprecating or situational. (An example of the latter would be the loud sound of dishes crashing during your speech. You might ad lib something like, “I think that guy’s having a rougher day than any of us.”)
- We love to hear a story … so long as it’s interesting, relevant and brief.
- You don’t have to sound like anyone but yourself. People sense when we’re not being our natural selves. And that can devalue the credibility of what we’re saying.
- Breathe deeply before you take the mic, and tighten and relax your muscles. When we’re nervous, our vocal cords constrict, our pitch rises and our voices get thin. All of this makes it harder to project.
- Remember that it’s not about you. Believe it or not, audiences want us to do well and be relaxed and confident. Our “naturalness” allows them to focus on what we’re saying.