The very best impromptu speeches are the ones written well in advance -- Ruth Gordon
An American actress and screenwriter, Ruth Gordon was correct when she was asked how she gave so many excellent impromptu speeches. Write them well in advance. Practice them until they become second nature.
Present Like a Pro will not make you a polished professional speaker. But it does provide some outstanding insights into what you need to consider when you want to improve your speaking and presentation capabilities.
Maxey and O’Connor provide some excellent points on how to continually improve your speaking skills and become more comfortable and effective with your presentations. Each chapter covers a specific point and subject. The authors present the information in a clear, concise manner that makes it easy to digest and recall at a later time.
What we found particularly interesting, informative and useful were the periodic insertion of boxed comments – coach’s comments, professional pointers, common questions/solutions and personal observations.
In addition to speaking at every opportunity, one of the items we have found to be immensely helpful to us is to watch and study the presentations of successful people.
We enjoyed watching and analyzing the presentations and techniques that GE’s Jack Welch used. We admire the smooth polish that Apple’s Steve Jobs possesses. We find the different approaches that Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer use to be very interesting. It has been interesting to see Intel’s Paul Otellini grow as a spokesperson for the company. The CEA’s president Gary Shapiro has perfected his presentation techniques before friendly audiences and less than friendly congressional committees.
Reading Present Like a Pro can certainly help you understand and learn basic and advanced techniques for nearly every occasion. But we also believe that your management and you can learn a lot simply by watching and analyzing presentations and speeches by people in your industry. We feel the book is both interesting and informative and when combined with studying the presentation skills of other nearly anyone can become an effective speaker. The key is to take advantage of every speaking opportunity – presentations, public events, conferences/seminars as well as business meetings.
While most books we have read on the subject place most of the emphasis on you the speaker and your techniques, Maxey and O’Connor place considerable emphasis on your audience. We found their advice for speakers to solicit feedback and their advice on handling the unruly individual in the audience. Fortunately that’s never been something we have confronted – or even thought about – so the advice was of considerable assistance.
If you do nothing more than skip read Present Like a Pro and spend most of your time reading and rereading the boxed Coach’s Comments and Hints from the Pros, you are well on your way to mastering the art of business and professional speaking. These highlighted segments almost make you feel as though you have a speech coach looking over your shoulder as you read the book.