Understanding how to communicate to an audience is not rocket science. Yet I am constantly baffled by otherwise intelligent people who seem to have absolutely zero clue about how to be good speakers. Which is surprising, because it is not a complicated process. The rules for effective speaking are easier to master than the rules of baseball. You need to know your subject matter, know your audience, and know how best to get your message across to them.
All of this varies depending on the specifics of your situation, of course, but a couple of standard rules always apply, whether you are giving "a few remarks" at an event or making a formal speech:
- Always structure your comments, to include a beginning (intro), middle (main points--no more than four, but three is preferred!), and end (wrap-up). You may be a non-linear thinker, but unless your audience is made up wholly of mind-readers, you'd do well to stick to the formula that passes for the lingua franca of organized speech.
- Always plan ahead, so you have organized your thoughts (see above).
- Always stick to your preparation. The biggest consequence of people going "off script" is that they dig themselves into verbal holes they then need to spend valuable time getting out of. And they lose the attention of their audience--resulting in a hit to their credibility. As I saw so clearly in this most recent instance.
As Tommy Lasorda said, “There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.” Be the one who makes it happen.