June 10, 2012

Why Lessons Are Better Than Speeches

by Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012, CC

Confession time. I don't like giving speeches. There's too much preparation and practicing. The timing needs to be right.

In Toastmasters, each speech has specific criteria which get progressively tougher. That's why I haven't done in a speech since becoming a Competent Communicator three months ago.

Real Life

In real life, do you deliver speeches? I give presentations. The length is generally 45-60 minutes, including questions. A speech isn't the right form of practice but a lesson is.

At Goodyear Toastmasters, a lesson is typically 15-20 minutes long. You can practice a full presentation in three or four sessions over a period of months. Or you can practice the core elements in one lesson.

At first, giving a lesson may look like difficult because you have more time to fill. The opposite is true.


A lesson is much easier than a speech. You're not expected to memorize. You're more likely to use visual aids like PowerPoint. There's time for audience participation, which develops your impromptu skills. You're not rushed.

If you feel nervous in the beginning, you'll have more time to recover. You'll have more time to try different things. When you watch the video playback, you may spot unintended behaviour more easily. Perhaps your body language changes when each time you get a question.

If you're using PowerPoint, you can use Presenter View to help you remember your content. When you're live, you don't want to look like you're simply reading. When you're practicing, Presenter View is very helpful.

The Topic

If you already know your topic and don't need visuals, you can prepare a lesson in minutes.

If you're doing an important presentation (for work, say), you won't want to rush the preparation. As you do more lessons, you may be able to reuse elements such as slides. 


If you normally use visuals for lessons, try one without. I've done that several times recently
You're then better prepared should equipment malfunction.

That’s the lesson for today, Class dismissed.


Promod Sharma blogs about marketing at marketingactuary.com and tweets about trust @trustandyou.

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