Like millions of families this summer, we will soon pack up and go on a summer vacation.  Unlike Clark Griswold, we won’t load up the station wagon and go to Walley World (and I likely won’t see it, but sequels are rarely as good as the original).

We will spend a considerable amount of time and money to “get away from it all.”  However, in today’s world, that is more of a dream than a reality.  While on “vacation,” I’ll answer emails and phone calls, prospect for clients, probably write a newsletter article, work on the book, and do some long range thinking and planning.  About the only thing I won’t be doing that is part of my normal schedule are day-to-day family responsibilities and in-person training and coaching.  Otherwise, the show must go on, vacation or not.  I may not see myself as a businessman (hey, I’m a Public Speaking Coach!), but I can’t take a break from running the business.

And though we’ll plan some big chunks of our week away, much of it will “just happen.”  Those impromptu car games, family card nights, new parks and restaurants and experiences and views, and memories with old and new friends are what turn out to be the highlights.

As I ponder and plan this pipe dream of “getting away from it all,” it hit me that most people view speaking that way.  They don’t see themselves as speakers, primarily, so any activity that isn’t formal speaking must be “getting away from it.”

Probably the Number One answer students give to the question “What makes a great speaker?” is “Preparation.”  Preparation IS important.  Vitally important (we are creating an online video course on presentation creation that should be available to the public this quarter!).  Don’t omit preparation.  But what about those other engagements?  Those off-the-cuff and unplanned speaking engagements?

There are two types of speaking we do:

  1. planned
  2. impromptu

The planned speaking includes meetings, updates, presentations, training classes, and sales calls.  We know what we’re going to say.  We are practiced and polished.  We know when it will start and when it will end (hopefully).  But most of us spend more time in unplanned communication: the cold call, the water cooler meeting, the off-road topics during a one-on-one, the Q&A session of the conference breakout, or the car ride to Walley World.  It’s in these moments that two indicators come to light: your delivery skills and your ability to effectively get a message across.  The principles of great communication don’t apply only to planned engagements.

Just like the unplanned times of vacation turn out to be some ofthe best memories, your ability to use spontaneous communication to work on your skills is vitally important to your long-term success on the big stage.

Don’t take time off from communicating.  Your business, and life, can’t take the break.  Always on.

This article was published in the July 2015 edition of our monthly speaking tips email, Communication Matters.  Have speaking tips like these delivered straight to your inbox every month.  Sign up today and receive our FREE handout, “Twelve Tips that will Save You from Making a Bad Presentation.”  

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