How ‘extemporaneous holes’ can enliven your next presentation

Speakers, are your presentations so rigidly structured that you give yourself no breathing room, no chance to interact on a human level with your listeners? Here’s how to loosen up a bit.

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Speakers, are you using “holes” to your advantage?

Many executives open a practice speech with a statement along these lines: “Thank you for coming. I’m very excited that you could join us today for this unprecedented announcement.”

The problem is that they’re reading those opening lines from their scripts, without even a hint of excitement in their voices, while looking down and making scant eye contact with audience members.

Here’s what I tell them when we review their videotapes together: If a line intended to be sincere has to be read from the page, it will lose all sincerity.

That’s why we encourage many speakers using a script to look for places within their speeches to insert “extemporaneous holes.” During those holes, they briefly leave their prepared scripts and speak in a more off-the-cuff style. The opening mentioned above, in which the specific words don’t matter as much as their tone and sincerity, is one logical place to leave a hole.

You can also “break the pattern” by looking for a place or two to add a hole within the body of your talk.

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