Throughout these Public Speaking Tips, you’ll find glowing — sometimes gushing — references to Instant Speeches.
The Instant Speech is an easy-to-use format that makes you sound poised and professional, even when you’re speaking off the cuff (for example, at a job interview or during a Q&A).
Instant speeches spark public speaking joy for me, and I’ll bet they will for you, too!
Anatomy of an Instant Speech
If you’ve read my book, Speak Like Yourself…No, Really!, you already know that an Instant Speech has two elements:
- Your “Key Message,” which begins and ends the Instant Speech, and is the most important thing you want your listeners to remember; and
- Three topics, discussions, or arguments that support it (the “Supporting Points”).
Why three Supporting Points? I don’t know.
In fact, no one really knows why The Rule of 3 works.
We only know that groups of three — Love, honor, and cherish. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Of the people, by the people, for the people — convey a satisfying sense of balance and power to your listeners.
They confer a kind of credibility, as this next example shows.
An Instant Speech Can Make You “Scream for Ice Cream”
Here’s an Instant Speech that extols the virtues of my favorite food, ice cream.
Try saying this out loud, and see if it sends you running to the freezer for a scoop:
Ice cream is the world’s most perfect food.
- It comes in 400 flavors, to suit everybody’s taste;
- It has more vitamins and nutrients than any of the other major food groups; and
- It’s easy to carry, so you never have to be without it.
For all of these reasons, ice cream is the world’s most perfect food — and I hope you’ll go out and buy me some now!
Doesn’t that have a persuasive ring? Even if you’re not an ice cream addict, you probably noticed that:
- The key message is short and sweet;
- The three supporting points are nicely balanced; and
- The whole thing sounds credible, even though what it’s saying is not.
If the Instant Speech format can redeem this content, think what it could do for a real argument!
An Instant Speech Can Elevate Any Message!
Lest you think that Instant Speeches are just a goof, here’s one on a serious topic that’s very near and dear to my heart:
Anyone can improve their public speaking by following three important steps:
- First, prepare your ideas, with an eye toward bringing value to your listeners;
- Then practice delivering them out loud, being sure to sound like your best self.
- Finally, when you present your speech, focus on connecting with the audience, and not on your fears about how they’ll react to you.
As you can see, it’s easy to improve your public speaking. Anyone can do it by following these three important steps.
In the ice cream example, above, the Instant Speech format lent gravitas (weight) to a topic that had none; and in this example, it makes a fairly weighty topic sound easier, more accessible.
Not bad for the same five-line system!
And the best thing is that, once you’ve mastered the Instant Speech format, it’s yours to enjoy and deploy as you choose.
To Master the Instant Speech Format, Make Lots of Instant Speeches
Instant Speech opportunities are everywhere, once you start to look for them. You can:
- Make them with your friends, your family, and colleagues at work.
- Use an Instant Speech to argue for the movie you want to see… to tell your kid to finish his homework… or to thank someone for a thoughtful gift.
- And, most importantly, use the Instant Speech format to think through a presentation before you start writing a script or working on your PowerPoint.
The more you make Instant Speeches, the more they’ll start to roll off your tongue.
Which means, in turn, that when you get hit by something unexpected — whether it’s a media interview or a request to “say a few words” — you’ll know exactly what you should do next:
- Decide on your Key Message;
- Choose 3 points or topics to support it; and
- Deliver your Instant Speech with confidence.
And for lots more detail about Key Messages, Supporting Points, how to put them together and how to expand an Instant Speech into a presentation of any lengths, check out Chapters 4-7 of Speak Like Yourself… No, Really! Follow Your Strengths and Skills to Great Public Speaking.