To Read a Speech or to not Read a Speech is a question many people ask themselves when facing the task of presenting information to any group large or small, business, professional, academic or pleasure. What to do?
Generally, my opinion is that only under very special circumstances should you read a Speech or Presentation. But if you must, and…
There are times when critical information must be delivered precisely and Reading a Speech usually guarantees that outcome. On the other hand, frequently the decision to Read a Speech is based on your “Fear of Speaking”…which can exist for any number of reasons. It is true, that in a high pressure demanding environment… and TED most likely is after all, Bran Ferren does a terrific job of Reading his Speech. He’s comfortable up on the stage and that’s evident as is his obvious preparedness with the text of the speech. He occasionally looks away from his text for long periods of time, directly addressing the audience. Eye contact…important!
His demeanor is relaxed, his voice is steady, his delivery pace is pleasant, his slides are dynamic. OK, that said, the typical complaints that I have with Reading a Speech are still evident. Here are a few:
- He never moves about the stage because he can’t or won’t leave his Speech which is sitting on top of the lectern. Stage movement is a plus when delivering your message it keeps the audience focused on You.
- Although his Reading is good, it still sounds like “Reading.” One unintended result is that the audience may lose interest and drift away from you & your message and grab the Cell-phone. Disconnection from your audience is neither your intention nor a desirable result.
- His demeanor appears quite calm, but frankly I like a bit more tension in a Speaker, and that comes from stage movement, and grabbing words “on demand” rather then on paper. One more point,
- Those BIG, beautiful images projected on the Giant TED screen above & behind him…well don’t count on having that available to you unless of course, you’re speaking at TED. Prepare any Keynote or Powerpoint presentation for the size of the room, the size of the audience, and the type of equipment available to you.
My best advice is to work with a Speaking Teacher or Coach that you’re comfortable with, someone you trust. Develop your skills to get past the “Need to Read a Speech” and you’ll become more effective in presenting your message, developing more support and followers along your Speaking journey.
Now, as another clear example of an acceptable Reading a Speech, visit this TED Presentation at least momentarily. His personal style is very pleasant, personable, even comfortable to listen to, and yet I feel that the same comments stated above, also apply here. The applause at the end, which is light but polite, is I feel, more a reflection of the Audience interest in the Subject itself, not the Speaker.
Finally: Read the Speech if Necessary! Don’t Pass-up the Opportunity.
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