Speak Naturally & Outshine the Overscripted
“Reciting lines is hard; making stuff up is much, much easier.” – Zach Galifianakis
I’m not sure about the context that Zach Galifianakis said this in but let me be clear, when I chose this quote I wasn’t thinking that you should literally make stuff up. However, I am a big fan of not necessarily knowing exactly what words are going to come out when you get up to speak.
Speaking is not acting. If you are going to script everything in order to get on stage or in front of a camera, you also need to learn to emote while recalling and reciting lines, and do it in a way that is believable i.e. acting. Personally, I am no Leo DiCaprio so trying to do that is fraught with danger – likewise for the 99.9% of people who aren’t skilled actors.
Reading is not speaking. When you read from a teleprompter app on your device it comes across exactly like you are reading from a teleprompter app on your device. Likewise, when you read from notes in front of an in-person audience, it may get you through the experience without messing anything up, but it is a huge barrier to connecting with those people.
What to do instead
For a start, if you’re not speaking from a position of knowledge you shouldn’t be there. If you’re not speaking on a topic you care about, you shouldn’t be there. Speak from the heart and speak from knowledge (or skill or experience or all of the above).
Know what you want to talk about but don’t get hung up on the exact words.
For a pre-prepared presentation, preparation should include organising your points and info so they flow. It should not include writing it out word-for-word.
For truly impromptu situations, have a system for organising your points in your mind.
Having said all that…
Come to think of it, I don’t agree with Zach Galifianakis. Speaking without reciting lines or reading is not easy at all. If it was, everyone would be able to stand up, or go in front of a camera, and speak naturally and confidently.
But not many people can because it’s hard, and it’s uncomfortable.
That’s exactly why if you can learn to do it and get comfortable, you will stand out – because you will exude genuine authenticity, trustworthiness and authority.