I was jealous.
Often I encountered individuals who could deliver brilliant one-liners, answers, and even mini speeches with no preparation.
Give them a topic and for the next 1-2 minutes they wowed their audience with stories, comments, and humor.
Duane could easily launch into story that caused people to hang on every word. David always had a well placed one-liner. Ask Sarah a question and her answers seemed well rehearsed.
I, on the other hand, struggled in all three areas. I was not born with that ability to think and speak on my feet.
So I thought.
Then I discovered the secret of sounding brilliant when speaking off-the-cuff.
Prepare your answers, one-liners, and stories ahead of time.
It is that simple.
Duane had practiced his dozens of stories till they were a listeners delight. David had memorized 20-30 one-liners and sprinkled them in when appropriate (though he is still improving in this area). Sarah anticipated questions she would be asked and had answers ready.
Smart preparation often beats talent.
I decided to test this secret. Over the next three months, I won 3 Table Topics contests and took first place in the District 22 Toastmasters Table Topics Contest (representing all of Kansas and half of Missouri).
How did I give a winning speech 5 seconds after hearing the topic?
I tossed in one of the stories I had rehearsed. Mixed in a few humor lines I had prepared. Added some off-the-cuff commentary and tied it into the topic.
Nope. That’s how the other winners do it and what Toastmaster Leadership encourages.
Amateurs show up on game day and rely on talent. Pros anticipate and practice so they are prepared for anything on game day.
Do the same and you can sound brilliant when speaking off-the-cuff.
If you are giving a prepared speech, use the strategies in Become a Better Speaker in One Evening.