My Father Told Me Never to Miss an Opportunity to Give a Speech

A few days ago I was sitting in a beautiful dining room at a lodge / resort in Vermont and at the conclusion of our dinner people started doing toasts. There was a silence after a couple toasts, and then my friend Dan Saper stood up and said, "Well, my father told me never to miss an opportunity to give a speech, so…" It was a great opener which got some laughs.

At another table I was sitting next to Dan’s dad, Jeff Saper, Vice-Chairman of Wilson Sonsini, the premier law firm for Silicon Valley technology companies. After Dan said his bit, Jeff — who’s a great guy and super successful — said with a laugh that some time ago he told Dan to use that opening line at another function and Dan’s been using it ever since.

It reminded me that a few good opening/closing lines go a long way in public speaking or interpersonal relationships in general.

Yesterday my friend Geoff Shaw had to deliver a brief speech. He received a very flattering introduction. Every time you are introduced to give a speech it will be flattering! The simple way to respond to it is: "Thanks Jane for those kind words." Geoff had a better response: "Geeze, I wish my parents had heard that. My father would have loved it and my mother would have believed it!" This is a great way to both accept the praise and be self-deprecating.

What interpersonal, universal techniques do you employ?

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