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The Speech Versus the Presentation: Part 3

Nancy Daniels asked:

In Part 1 of The Speech Versus The Presentation, I talked about the differences between those two formats whereas in Part 2, I discussed speechwriting and how the format is identical for both.  While there are many similarities in the delivery of both the speech and the presentation, there is one important difference:

•  Speeches are read; presentations are spoken; and, neither should be memorized.

Those who are good at reading a speech don’t sound like they are reading a speech.  They sound like they are talking to their audience which is only possible if the speaker has practiced the material out loud many times.  Reading it over in your mind is not practice because you will discover, in some cases, that while the flow of words to the eye may work, those same words to the mouth do not. 

If you know your material, you will then be able to acknowledge your audience as you speak, looking up and making eye contact with your listeners throughout your delivery.  Knowing your material also allows for more expression in your delivery because it will allow you to talk to your audience and not at them.  If your eyes are glued to your script, there is little likelihood of a dynamic delivery.

•  Always practice your material out loud, be it for the speech or the presentation.  It is the only way to truly know your material. 

When it comes to the presentation, learn to ‘talk it through.’   A presentation should be very conversational:  it should not be rote nor sing-song.    Remember those major points from Part 2?  A good presenter speaks ‘around’ each of those points and subpoints.  In that sense, I have never written out a presentation word for word.  My presentations are always in outline form except for my openings and my closings, both of which I will memorize.  [I know, I told you earlier that memorization is a no-no.  And it is, except for your openings and closings!  An occasional mistake in a presentation is not a problem; however, you don’t want to make a mistake in your opening statement nor in your closing.  Your sense of well-being – your confidence – will be greater if you can get through them both flawlessly.]

Because my presentations are in outline form, I list a few words on 5 x 8 note cards and speak ‘around’ those subpoints or sub-subpoints.  For example, if I’m talking about voice improvement, my one note card will have on it two words:  Jack Burghardt.   Former Canadian television anchorman and Member of Parliament, the late Jack Burghardt was blessed with a wonderfully resonant speaking voice.  When I later met his son, I immediately recognized the young man as a Burghardt because he sounded so much like his father which leads me then to talk about why we sound the way we do.  So those two words give me a good 4-5 minutes of material. 

From presentation to presentation, no matter how many times I talk about Jack, it never sounds exactly the same and the words are never the same because I’m talking ‘around’ Jack and not reading about Jack; however, as with the speech, I’m making eye contact with my audience and again I’m talking to them, not at them.

•  The value of the speech lies in its exactness of its words; the value of the presentation lies in its inexactness of its words.

Whether you’re giving a speech or a presentation, talk to your audience just as if you were having a conversation in your living room.  The best in the business do this and much of their success is built on a powerful, dynamic delivery in which they acknowledge their audience, they speak with expression, and they know their material.

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