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AbsurdStachelSchwein

Advice on delivering farewell talk

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I'm giving my farewell talk this Sunday and I'm having trouble preparing my talk (I know this seems a bit late). I guess my main question is this: Is it okay to write down word for word what I want to say? Or would it be better to use flashcards as a guide to what I want to say? I honestly don't feel confident about using flashcards primarily because I freeze up really badly when I'm under pressure. I found it really challenging for me just to bear my testimony in front of the High Council. Does anyone have any advice to help me with this problem? I hope that one day, I can give a talk without feeling like I'm walking to my death.

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

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A couple of thoughts:

 

1.  There is no "right" or "wrong" way to prepare for a talk (written sheet versus note cards)--it's just a matter of which method is more suited to your speaking style.

 

2.  My experience is that when there's no lectern/podium, note cards are less of a distraction to the audience than a fully-written-out talk would be.  However, in Sacrament meeting talks, there is a lectern; so that's not really a big deal.  I personally find that note cards are harder to use--both because I have to write smaller on them, and because I have to remember more (how I planned to link ideas together, specific verbiages I wanted to use . . . that kind of thing).

 

3.  My personal preference is to write out the bulk of my talks verbatim, but be prepared to briefly extemporize a testimony at the end of the talk (I type my talks, and generally find that one double-spaced page takes about two minutes to read aloud).

 

4.  If you have a chance, practice the talk before giving it--so that you're familiar with it, and so that you can practice delivering it in a more natural tone of voice.

 

5.  I've found it's a good idea to identify and mark, in advance, about page's worth of material in my talk that is "expendable" (a paragraph here, a sentence there), in case (as a concluding speaker) the other speakers have run long and I have to shorten my talk.  It's also good to have an extra, 1-2 page story ready to go just in case there's extra time to fill.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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I follow many of Just_A_Guy's techniques when speaking. I write my talk out, but then I also bold the particular phrases or quotes that are the crux of the paragraph. That way, if I feel more confident I can look up from the paper and quickly find my place again when I look back down. I also don't have to read every word but I can move from section to section more easily.

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Keep the talk simple. Think about the purpose of sacrament meeting and prayerfully prepare a talk that is based on the topic given by the bishopric. If no topic was given, prepare a talk that focuses on the Savior and the atonement. Don't try to impress anybody, but do try to invite the spirit with true experiences that helped you gain a testimony of Jesus Christ.

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My comment is too late for your farewell talk, but I'm glad your talk went well.

 

I've been involved in Toastmasters for many years, and I follow a technique that I call "glance and drizzle" that works really well for me.

 

I write out the entire speech word for word, and then rehearse reading it and make whatever changes are needed to make it sound natural.  I've always said that the best speeches are monologues that feel like dialogues, because the speaker makes eye contact and uses body language to make the audience feel like participants even though only one person is speaking.

 

Anyway, after I get the speech written out, I change the font to something large and break the text up into lines, double-spaced on the page so there is plenty of white space.  Often one sentence of the speech is one line, but a long sentence may be broken up into three or four lines. 

 

Then I pick one word in each line that summarizes the line or would be a good cue for the entire line.  For example, suppose the speech contains this sentence: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."  I break it up on the page and bold one word in each line:

 

Four score and seven years ago

 

our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation,

 

conceived in liberty,

 

and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

 

Then I rehearse the speech until I get to the point where just seeing the bolded word reminds me of the entire line.  When I give my speech or talk, I "glance" at the next bolded word, which usually reminds me of the entire line, and I "drizzle" (speak aloud slowly) the entire line to the audience while making good eye contact and sweeping my gaze across the room.  If I ever forget a line, it's all right there in front of me, so I can't get lost.  The audience sees you looking at them 80% of the time, with occasional glances to your notes that seem as smooth and professional as a newscaster.  With the big font and all the blank lines you might have 10 or 20 pages to paw through while you're speaking, but if you're at a lectern you can slide each page off to one side after you use it and nobody will see it.

 

I've tried using note cards and they always backfire on me because I leave out critical things that slip my mind.  I'm not so good at memorizing whole speeches, either.  The key is to find a technique that works for you.  And by the way, Toastmasters is a great organization for practicing your public speaking, especially if you can find a high-energy club.

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