Jul 16

Public Speaking in Context

Whenever you get up and deliver a speech you have to remember that what you say is in context. What do I mean by that? Well, when you deliver a speech you have to be aware that your words are not isolated and your surroundings may have an impact on what you’re about to say.

You have to be aware that the previous speaker has not delivered a joke similar to one of yours, or has preempted your speech ideas. If so what do you do? Do you cut it out entirely or do you keep the story/idea and simply make reference to the previous speaker’s point:

“As [insert speaker’s name] said earlier and it’s a point worth repeating [insert your point]”.

This can also tie in nicely because if they have made a joke similar to one that you are scheduled to use in yours it may act as a callback and you might be able to get a bigger laugh.

Prior preparation can help reduce some of these problems, but not all. Try to remain in the room both mentally and literally as this could help save you from embarrassment.

During this year’s competition season at Toastmasters I decided to step outside the room in order to mentally prepare myself and go over my speech a few more times. I could’ve come a cropper that night had someone delivered a speech on the same topic but, luckily, I got away with it.

The only thing I do find with being in the room in a situation like a contest is that if you see someone else perform well it could put you off. It’s easily done as just a brief thought of “that was a good joke” or “not sure if I can follow that”. But the point is if you can let go of such thoughts and acknowledge any similarities between your speech and that of another then it might actually stand you in good stead.