In the good old days when public speaking was an art, many enrolled in classes to learn how to have confidence in themselves, how to convince people and thereby control a situation, which were known as the three Cs of public speaking.
Cicero, in his Roman toga, used deft hand movements to emphasise a point, which if done today would look ludicrous. Schools, later decided to freeze the hand by telling students to place them behind, so all concentration by the audience would be on the little speaker, on his or her speech and not to be distracted by a wild arm flying and flaying around.
But what every public speaker feared was his speech.
Would he have to learn it by heart, or read it, and if read when did he have to lift his head, and when his head was lifted did he look at the audience. Many a speaker, looking down at his speech, read with gay abandon, and when he or she lifted their heads and seeing the stares of the audience, became so self-conscious, forgot which line they were on, and left stage flustered.
Then came the teleprompter!
You looked straight. The words stared back at you. You read and the audience felt you were looking directly at them and speaking extempore. “What a great man, he speaks straight from his heart!” were words many leaders heard about themselves, even as those who worked with them, knew he or she was only reading the speech some ghost writer had written.
Very often the speaker never knew what he was supposed to read, and it didn’t matter because soon he or she became a good actor, and could deliver any speech, anywhere, like a superstar!
But sometimes the teleprompter fails!
“What am I supposed to say?” he thinks.
“Where did the people come from?” he asks seeing an audience where teleprompter words once blazed.
And suddenly the actor, on stage, for indeed it is an actor, doesn’t know the answer.
There’s only one word of advice that can be given.
Know your speech!
You don’t need to know the words like an elocution student, but know the thoughts behind it. It’s not the words, it’s the message that’s important. The teleprompter delivers only words, whereas the speaker should know the sentiment that needs to be conveyed, and with or without teleprompter, new words will come to the rescue, and thoughts will be conveyed sometimes even more powerfully than what the wordsmith put together!
But if you didn’t know the thought behind what you were supposed to speak? If you didn’t have a clue about the message, then like an actor, you have to wait till the scriptwriter delivers your script.
Your job is only to act out parts; gestures, tone, pitch and volume..!
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