Controlling The Unexpected In Speaking

by Stephen Boyd | March 31, 2003

You can be well prepared and still have things go wrong in a speaking situation because of the unexpected. Here are tips to control the unexpected.

  • Talk to the person in charge of the speaking engagement a week in advance to check on time, location, and context of the speech.
  • Get to your speaking location early enough to check out the speaking room and audio visual equipment.
  • Test the microphone.
  • Find a quiet place in the hallway or an empty room to check your notes and outline one last time.
  • Carry an extra copy of your introduction in case the person introducing you failed to bring it with him or her.
  • Take a moment to look in the restroom mirror to check your appearance.
  • Plan in advance what you might leave out of your speech or add if the program chair tells you the speaking time has been lengthened or shortened.
  • Practice your speech in its entirety and time it so that you will not be surprised by the length of your speech in the actual presentation.
  • Say the name of the organization aloud so that you will not have a mental block or a mispronunciation when it comes time in your speech to mention it.

The unexpected is always a factor in speaking because you are dealing with people. But these tips will help you to control most of the unexpected situations as they arise.

About the Author

Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively. See additional articles and resources at To book Steve, call 800-727-6520 or email him through his website.

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