The Trench Work of a Speaker Determines Success

Cardinal hat

I can't think of any other high school class that influenced my life more than speech class. It sure wasn't algebra or chemistry.

I was recruited from Elementary Speech class to immediately progress to varsity debate. I guess I showed signs of being good at arguing a point ad nauseam.

At debate tournaments, individual competitions in extemporaneous and impromptu speaking were held prior to the formal debates. Extemporaneous (extemp) speaking caught my fancy. Contestants pulled a topic from a St. Louis Cardinal baseball hat and we were given 30 minutes to prepare. The topics were difficult and included domestic policy, economic policy and social issues.​ Preparation for extemp competition was year long.  

We prepared 3 x 5 note cards on almost any topic that appeared in news magazines. Our traveling filing cabinets of cards were a badge of honor to me. To others, all doubt was removed about my degree of geekiness. Fortunately, my high school bullies had yet to evolve to the state of advanced slushy tossing.

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Most everyone who participated in speech competitions were good speakers.  Contest winners were almost always the best prepared. Winner's speeches were highlighted by relevant quotes, data and references.

Passionate persuasion worked better in debates.

Effective leaders participate in extemporaneous speaking competitions throughout their day. The best leaders are well prepared for every chance encounter with team members. "Off the cuff" is best left to salsa removal after lunch. Leaders speak about:

  • mission
  • goals
  • numbers
  • issues of the day

Leaders frequently deliver messages of hope. The leader is almost always on the stump.  Every word is intently heard. Body language is observed. Facial alignment with the message is noted. Mistakes made when speaking to the team are often difficult to erase. Think of your words as indelible ink.

  • Prepare stories in advance
  • Be prepared to discuss current trends that matter most in your organization
  • Relate everything to mission
  • Speak daily about progress toward goal achievement.

Leaders must be excellent speakers. Excellent speakers are the best prepared.

"... And all the people answered and said, 'It is well spoken' " (1 Kings 18:24, MEV).

Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.

Leaders, Dr. Greene wants to help you understand the spiritual connection between relationships and productivity. Read his new blog, here.

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