It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech (Mark Twain)

Or…….how to sound like you are talking off the top of your head!

Here are three ways to approach a presentation:



  1. Are you a control freak?  Script a presentation (& slides) to within an inch of your life.  Learn it. Repeat it until it is embedded in your head and you can press the play button and off you go…
  2. Are you a dare devil?  Fly by the seat of your pants.  Who needs preparation? I haven’t got time, I always end up changing it anyway – let’s just see what comes out of my mouth on the day.  What fun!  What excitement!  What a thrill!
  3. Are you a thoughtful presenter?  Spend time crafting a clear message, plan for a sequence & structure that means the audience are involved, understand & can remember later.  Experiment with the sound, flow and feel of the presentation. Practice. Be prepared to change

Too much control and you can end up spending your energy designing and planning and miss out on the main point, which is how your audience will hear & experience your message.

Too little preparation and you might enjoy the thrill, but it is probable that your audience will end up being confused, unclear, hyped up but not willing to take action.  What a waste of energy.

As Mark Twain is accredited with saying – ‘a good ah hoc speech can take me three weeks to prepare.’  To sound natural, to have a clear message and to deliver in an engaging and powerful way takes preparation!   Preparation that starts with what your audience needs to hear and how they need to hear it.  This is so much more than scripting.  It is so much more than trusting the energy and passion to carry you through.

If you would like to chat about how you can develop your presentation skills, then email Catherine or call her on 07946604859.

This blog was originally part of a competition run by White Hart Training.  Entrants to the competition had to guess the originator of six quotes.  Each of the six quotes exemplifies six key factors about speaking in public.  Please browse the blogs for the remaining five quotes or search using the category

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2 Responses to It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech (Mark Twain)

  1. Naomi Martell-Bundock November 13, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Great article – easy to read and understand. Most helpful! Thanks.

    • Catherine Sandland November 14, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

      Delighted this was helpful Naomi. YOu might want to check out some of the other blogs as well.

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