Watched a mid-level manager open a speech to the troops the other day with an attempt at a related story which was clearly formulated as a grabber (no problems so far), followed with the requisite transition into business-ese (still no problem), followed by a posture shift (uh-oh) when the memorized spiel ran out and then a degenerate spiral of rambling that ended with an “I hope you can get what you need out of this meeting.“For meetings that have no emotional baggage (admittedly, this one did — and it involved layoffs) between differing layers of folks, I like to see a nice grabber that is fairly scripted, and I like to see a departure from said script when the meat arrives so that folks don’t feel they’re being preached to.  If the speaker can only hope to meet the needs of the audience, they

  1. haven’t done their homework
  2. show a chink in the confidence armor
  3. are likely to not have their hopes met — disappointment arrives the moment those words slip from the lips

I don’t care what the audience, what the situation, or what the message, the speaker’s job is to meet the audience’s need, and a speaker who doesn’t know what that need is should keep their mouth shut until they do.  Also, for uncharted (non-scripted) messages, less is more.  “Better to be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”  When a confident opener gives way to a rambling anti-message (one that contradicts the message), the audience is not fooled — the opener was a show, and the speaker does not have what the audience needs.  Instant disconnect.Again now, in unison.  This time with feeling.

Meet an audience’s need.  Speak with confidence and brevity, even off the script.

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