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This e-mail digest is dedicated to the interaction and education of volunteer speaker members of The Florida Bar Speakers Bureau. Submit items of interest to Kenia Escobar at, or mail to The Florida Bar Speakers Bureau, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-2300. Photos sent by e-mail should be in jpg and gif format.

June 4, 2012. Issue 91

Welcome new speakers

We are pleased to announce that Aldo Leiva and Jennifer Perrone joined the Speakers Bureau in May. We hope they find this volunteer experience a fulfilling one.

Coordinator message - Good Bye!

Dear Speakers, I would like to personally let you know that I am leaving The Florida Bar (June 29 will be my last day) because I am moving to Washington, D.C. I have enjoyed working with the Speakers Bureau and I sincerely appreciate having had the opportunity to work with you all.

I wish all the best!


Speaking tips

How to ace the short, impromptu speech

In this article, you’ll find a set of tips that will make you shine the next time you are asked to speak on the spur of the moment.

Impromptu Speech Scenarios

Impromptu speaking may not be as glamorous as prepared speaking, but it is an equally vital skill simply because there are so many scenarios where you find yourself speaking without more than a few moments of preparation. It’s no surprise that “impromptu speaking sessions” are found within Toastmasters meetings, college communications courses, and public speaking seminars.

Consider just a few situations where you find yourself speaking off the cuff:
    • The scheduled speaker is unavailable (or late), and you’ve been asked to fill in.
    • You are sitting on a panel answering questions from the audience.
    • You are fielding questions after your own talk (yes, your Q&A session is impromptu speaking).
    • You are being interviewed on television, radio, webinar, or telephone.
    • You are invited (at the last moment) to say a few words at a company gathering.
    • You are asked to provide a brief status report for your project at a department meeting.
    • You are motivated to join the debate at the parent association meeting for your child’s school.
    • You decide to give an unplanned toast at an event with family or friends.

It’s also worth noting the irony that the better you are at giving prepared speeches, the more often you will be invited to speak with no time for preparation at all. Your friends and colleagues will recognize your speaking skill, and when they need “someone” to say a few words… you’ll be that someone!

Winning Strategies for Impromptu Speeches

Although you may only have a few seconds to prepare for any particular impromptu situation, you certainly can prepare yourself to be ready when called upon. Here are a few strategies you can use:

Anticipate situations where you may be called upon to speak. For example, if you are attending an engagement party for a close friend or family member, there’s a reasonable chance that you might be asked to speak. Similarly, if one of your close colleagues is scheduled to speak (e.g. your boss, your peer, or your report), it’s also reasonable to assume that you will find yourself speaking. As you head to the event, do a few mental exercises, trying to guess what you might be asked to speak about, and how you would respond. Even if your guess isn’t accurate, it’s amazing how those prior thoughts will help you think on your feet when you are asked to speak.

Wrap your response around a simple template, or framework. If you practice this a few times, you will find that your mini-speeches are much more polished and coherent. A few easy frameworks include:

1. P.R.E.P. (Point. Reason. Example. Point) – Start off by clearly stating your point. Share the primary reason (or reasons, if you have more time). Then, share an example (preferably in story form) where your main point or reason is supported. Finally, conclude by summarizing your central point again. The template works well in many situations, and is easily adapted.
2. Issue, Pros vs. Cons, Conclusions - Start off by framing the issue. Talk about the benefits, and then talk about the drawbacks. Conclude with your recommendation.
3. 5W – In this pattern, you cover your topic by addressing the Who, What, When, Where, and Why elements. For example, if you’ve been asked to speak briefly about a fundraising initiative, you could talk about [1] who started it, and who is involved now; [2] what the goals are; [3] when it started, and the schedule for the future; [4] where does it take place; and [5] why are you involved. This template works nicely, largely because the “why?” comes last, because this is often the most critical information.

Want to learn more?

Dazzle your audience by leading the perfect Q&A session.

Turn your impromptu session into a Q&A session. In situations where you are asked to fill in when the schedule speaker is absent, it may not be wise to launch into a 45 minute impromptu speech. Even the most accomplished speakers are prone to meander in that situation. Instead, reframe the session as a Q&A session, which breaks it up into a series of very small impromptu speeches that are probably easier for you to answer individually. Plus, the content comes directly from the audience, so you are guaranteed to deliver what they are seeking.

Use personal stories. Storytelling is an essential skill for prepared speaking, but it is equally useful for impromptu speaking as well. Stories are emotional, real, and interesting. If you stick to personal stories, you’ll find that it is much easier to speak (even without preparation) because the events happened to you.

Avoid the tendency to go on, and on, and on. Craft a coherent message, and then be quiet. Rambling on will only weaken your overall speech. If you must fill more time, shift into a Q&A.

Go easy on yourself. We all want to speak perfectly every time, but demanding perfection from yourself in an impromptu speech is setting the bar too high. The audience (probably) recognizes that you’ve been thrown in at the last minute, and they will understand.

The Florida Bar News

Annual Convention - Online Registration Now Open
Then, Now, Always... A Heritage of Leadership
is the theme for the 62nd Annual 2012 Florida Bar Convention to be held June 20 - 23 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center, Orlando/Kissimmee. Participate in your choice of 14 CLE courses, 12 luncheons and special events, committees and section meetings, General Assembly and more. Make your hotel reservation early before rooms sell out. Review the convention website for updates.

The Vote's in Your CourtThe Vote's in YOUR COURT
The Florida Bar encourages you to learn more about judicial merit retention with our educational program The Vote’s in YOUR COURT. This coming November, you will be asked to vote whether to retain the justices and appeals court judges listed on the ballot. This is called judicial merit retention.

Participate in the Choosing Our Judges: Election vs. Selection seminar presented in the President’s Showcase by the Constitutional Judiciary Committee. Friday, June 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. How to register.

Pay Annual Fees Online
Florida Bar members may now
pay 2012-13 fees, join sections and report pro bono online.

The June 15 Bar News is now available with stories including:
JNC Vacancies:
Compliant filings
Visit the Florida Supreme Court website External Link to find the requirements, recommendations and resources for accessible filings and judicial branch records. The Florida Courts E-Filing Authority Board website External Link is also available for review.

ABA News

ABA Silver Gavel Award Winners Announced
The American Bar Association announced in May its selections for the Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts, which recognize outstanding work that fosters the American public’s understanding of law and the legal system. This is the ABA’s highest honor in recognition of this purpose, and no more than one Silver Gavel is presented in each category.

Lawyers With Disabilities are Lawyers Who Just Happen to Have a Disability
Lawyers with disabilities have the best chance of success when they “own” their disability, said Lauren E. DeBruicker, a partner in the Philadelphia office of Duane Morris LLP, during a panel session at the Third National Conference on the Employment of Lawyers with Disabilities in Washington, D.C.

Cuts to Courts are Denying Access to Justice: Panelists at ABA Law Day Program
Leaders from all political stripes — representing business interests, lawyers and civics organizations — came together on Law Day 2012 to raise awareness of the crisis in state court underfunding.

Social Media and Your Brand: Be Proactive, Act Fast
There are 800 million Facebook users; 100 million on LinkedIn.  And there are billions of users worldwide on social media sites.  Social media is the future of e-commerce, laid out Rob Holmes, of, during a recent American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law panel.

Quote of Note

"The difference between a smart man and a wise man is that a smart man knows what to say, a wise man knows whether or not to say it. "
~Frank M. Garafola

# # #

Kenia Escobar
Speakers Bureau Liaison
The Florida Bar,
651 E. Jefferson Street,
Tallahassee FL 32399-2300

1-800-342-8060, extension 5767
850/561-5733 (fax)

[Revised: 03-07-2014]