Are you ever at a loss for words at social or business gatherings?
Is your contribution, at the corporate dinner table, an occasional nod?
Do you ever stall, go blank or freeze in the middle of making a presentation?
If the answers are yes, yes and oh yes... you may consider yourself officially oratorically bankrupt! Even so, hold your horses, before you file for “linguistic bankruptcy” and abandon the hallowed merits of inspired public speaking, here is one way out: You need to become an ardent collector of customizable, engaging and stimulating material to add to your bag of tricks.
I coined the term Speaking Bank™ during a public speaking class where delegates sort to unravel the mystery behind stalling and freezing even when one is, by their own estimation, well-prepared. The main culprit here is, naturally, your nerves getting the better of you but even that can be managed with a healthy database of off the cuff material. The premise is simply that, like with an actual bank account, if you have not been depositing then there won’t be much to withdraw.
Every speaker needs a well-stocked word, expression and anecdote granary.
Building a Speaking Bank™ ensures that words will not fail you at that crucial moment when you are just about to substantiate, negotiate, deliberate, officiate, commemorate etc
With that said, what kind of material does any self-respecting speaker/presenter have at their disposal consistently? It's time to analyse your oratorical prowess. How many of the following can you supply at the drop of a hat?
1. Company/personal slogans
2. Flexible quotes
3. Captivating Stories
4. Fascinating facts and figures, shocking statistics
5. Idioms, figures of speech
6. News headlines
7. Proverbs and sayings
8. Lyrics to a well-known song
9. Topical issues and current affairs
10. Customizable jokes
11. Sound bites
12. Connectives, transitional phrases
The list goes on.
So, how did you fair? Are you well-stocked for your next public appearance, or should your audience expect just the bare minimum?
Make frequent deposits into your Speaking Bank™ and you will never run out of riveting material to keep ploughing forward in your presentation or social engagement. This material is all around us: Well-spoken colleagues, family and friends, newspapers, TV, movies, great speakers, cartoons, crosswords, events, books, billboards, gym ... We just need to be more attentive, to grab it and to recycle it. In fact, we can deliberately capture captivating content as we go along our usual business and store it within quick and easy reach - our smartphone apps! (I recommend Evernote).
Simply put, language works for those that work at it.
Bonus tip: You will need to open and run varied "influence bank accounts" – the business account (for workplace, clients and boardroom use), the domestic account (to influence your family members, especially teenagers, neighbours and mothers-in-law) and the social account (to jump into and sustain any conversation on any occasion, anytime anywhere). To set the ball rolling, here are some ways to improve your Business English
Language works for those that work at it.
Written by Caroline Nderitu, Executive Public Speaking Coach, based in Nairobi, Kenya.