I enjoy teaching, and have been fortunate to have good classes throughout the last year. It was fascinating watching the process of them starting with something that is often very general and then slicing it down to fit the time limit, while developing enough depth to interest an audience.
In the process of doing that, many of them got excited as they made the topic truly their own.
The longer I work with people who want to develop top-notch speaking skills, the more I realize how essential it is that you take any topic and make it yours. An example comes to mind from the summer I sold books door-to-door for the Southwestern Publishing Co. (since changed to Southwestern Advantage). Sales school consisted of a week of training in which we memorized a sales talk for each product word for word, and we could not graduate unless we get every “a,” “and,” and “the” in place.
The canned sales talks stood me in good stead for at least a couple of weeks. I made a lot of sales during that time, carried by the enthusiasm of sales school. But I quit believing in my products (no one really needs a Bible that expensive), and though I was delivering the sales talks the requisite number of times per day, people quit buying. The words were right, but my voice and body language communicated my lack of belief.
Eventually, they sent me around with the top salesman in our area. He delivered the same tired old sales talks–except he sounded as if he had just thought of the words. The sales talks sounded fresh; his delivery gave life to the words I had been killing.
Gold in the ground is just dirt. You have to dig it up and claim it as your own for you to get the value from it. So it is with speaking. You’re not simply sharing bits of information. You are taking your research, organizing it, and making it your own. In so doing, you bring unique value that makes it worthwhile for an audience to listen.