Speaking Mantra – Be sincere;be brief;be seated

Franklin Roosevelt’s advice to speakers – Be sincere; be brief; be seated sums up the essence of public speaking.

Be sincere: An Oscar award winning actor was once addressing a large audience when one of them wanted him to recite the 23rd Psalm ” The Lord is my Shepherd” The actor noticed an old priest in the audience and wanted him to recite the verse after him. The priest got up and said ‘ I am just an old preacher and not a showman like you. The audience here wants to listen to you”
The actor insisted that he recite it after him and the priest reluctantly agreed.

Now, the actor, a consummate performer, recited the verse with amazing voice modulation.
There was a thunderous applause from the audience.

Next, the priest recited ‘The Lord is my Shepherd” and sat down. There was no applause. Simply because most of them were wiping their tears from their eyes.

The actor then stood up and said ‘ I managed to reach your ears and eyes but this man reached your hearts. I know the Psalm. He knows the Shepherd !”


This was one of the best lessons in pubic speaking for me. Now, don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t mean you have to make your audience cry every time to get the message across ! Be sincere, be passionate about your subject !

Be brief: When I gave my Ice breaker speech many years ago in my Toastmasters club, I was voted as the best speaker. I was elated as I made many new friends. My mentor pulled me aside and gently reminded me that I had spoken for 12 (yes,twelve !) minutes when the allotted time was only 4 to 6 minutes ! He said it was a crime to exceed the time limit whatever the provocation ! Since then, I’ve been a ruthless editor and tried to fit the script within the time.

I read somewhere that the audience is the only set of people that gets tired after sitting down !

Well, last week at Bangalore Toastmasters, Mr. Robinson D’Souza, General Evaluator had an unusual request. He wanted me to evaluate his evaluation. Mr D’Souza is a seasoned TM and founder president of the club but it only showed his willingness to learn.

When I was called it was 8.40pm and the members were getting ready for the President to adjourn the meeting. The mood was quite anxious when I stepped in. I said TM D’ Souza, your performance was, as usual, unusual !” and sat down.
I did meet him and hand over my written evaluation and many members thanked me later for not launching a tirade !

Be seated: before the audience asks you to !
There are many speakers who have the initiative but lack the finishitive -the grammarian may find this sentence odd but there’s some food for thought in this statement !

Don’t you think it is time for me to sit down….er…. wrap up !

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