Why not just wing-it?


CBC listeners waited a long time for this day.

Following Ghomeshi-gate and a long series of auditioning guest hosts, it was announced that Shad would be the New Q show’s fresh voice.  Expectations were high for his heavily promoted, long awaited kick-off show.  He and his producers had weeks to prepare.  And still, after reading a short introduction, he ad-libbed.  His awkward delivery of this 40 seconds is our lesson in preparedness.   In fact, it sounds an awful lot like a Best Man winging a wedding speech.  And it’s radio, so I choose to envision Shad in a baby blue tux.

“Well this is, uh, such a special honour. Going back just a few months, uh, this was not on my radar. Uh, but it’s, it’s such an honour. I’m actually, uh, moved that someone would think I’d be worthy of this chair—not everyone thinks that—but that anyone would think that, um, it—it really is, it really is an honour. It’s an honour to work with this truly excellent team. It’s an honour to serve you guys and hopefully bring you good, rich, meaningful conversations. As well as trivial useless funny things. Um, it’s an honour. It’s gonna be an adventure. I have the best seat in the house. Uh, and on behalf of the team, of which I’m just a part, as your host, I welcome you.”


Ok!  Let’s hope it’s an open bar!


The opening line-up of the show probably looked something like this:

1. Bahamas plays song.

2. Read list of today’s guests.

3. Welcome audience, thank them for the honour of hosting.

And somehow, either the producers decided it was okay to have him Wing-It on item Number 3, or Shad went off-script.  Either way, it was a bad idea. The audience has been waiting for weeks.  We are judging him. Sure, he will find his footing.  He’ll grow into his role.  He’ll find his voice.  But why not make a great first impression that matches the hype? It is what his audience was groomed to expect.

Some people are better at public speaking than others.  (Those people have likely done it a lot more than others.) Some people are better at organizing their thoughts on the fly.  Some people are better at word-finding.  (You know, being able to come up with that exact…..um…..precise word you need at that exact moment you need it.)  We’d all love to be naturally great at public speaking.  Shad’s task here was Public Speaking.  It was not “Interviewing a Guest”.  I think he’ll be good at that.  He’s good at making a guest feel at ease.  But this task was different.  He was alone on stage, delivering a message directly to two audiences – studio and radio.  That’s stressful.  So be prepared.

We are all simply better at public speaking if we have practised beforehand.  All of us.  Write it out.  Say it out loud.  A couple of times.  No one needs to hear you, although a kind ear is very helpful.  You’ll be surprised by what you thought would work, but doesn’t.  What you thought you knew, but don’t.  Better to figure this out ahead of time.  You can use the Internet for word-finding!  I’m not saying you have to read your speech out loud at the event.  (But you might want to.  That depends on you.)  But know what you’re going to say.  Because up there, your word finding skills are not at the top of their game. And there’s nothing like drawing a blank in front of a crowd to get your heart racing and make your voice weak and have the blood rush to your face like, well, like a best man tanking at a wedding reception.

Here are some things I know:

1) Public Speaking is not easy, even though some people make it look that way.  So prepare.

2) Moments of brilliance may not come to you.  So prepare.

3) Moments of brilliance may still come to you, even if you prepare.  So prepare.

We have all witnessed a magic that comes from a spontaneous moment in a speech.  But you know, it might not have been spontaneous.  More often than not, it was pre-written.  Being prepared doesn’t mean that spontaneous magic won’t happen.  Writing it beforehand doesn’t keep you from really meaning it when you say it in front of an audience.

But having practiced out loud beforehand, at least you won’t be caught wishing you’d looked up the word “honoured” in a thesaurus before you decided to thank the three million people listening.


(P.S. appreciative, touched, grateful, blessed, flattered, humbled.  It’s all just a google search away.)



Planning on being in front of a microphone soon?  Contact me.