From Rachel Ray to The Iron Chef to Bobby Flay, today’s TV chefs teach us that food is to be carefully prepared, presented with style and savored with enjoyment. They also show that sound cooking principles, a flare for the unique and the freshest ingredients can make all the difference.
I grew up in the restaurant business. My parents owned two Italian restaurants in Washington DC. But as luck would have it, I’m a terrible cook! Yet I learned many lessons from growing up in the kitchen and eating delicious, well prepared food.
My sister, who inherited the cooking gene, is visiting with us this week. And she has been cooking up some great old family recipes. With all the food talk, aromas and bountiful dinners, I have been charmed once again by the magic of cooking. I have also realized there are many similarities to the world of public speaking. So here are a few ingredients that may help you prepare your next mouth watering speech.
Use the ingredients you have on hand. My sister is amazing at creating something from nothing. When I look in the fridge, I usually conclude that it’s time go out to dinner; when she does she finds numerous ingredients and makes a tasty meal. In speaking, the principle is “use what you know.” In other words, don’t try to be someone you’re not. Whether you’re doing a sales presentation or a motivational speech, use your own stories and your own personal life lessons. These ingredients will help you make your point, connect with your audience and leave a lasting impression.
Remember what your grandmother taught you. Somewhere along the way you have picked up some communications skills from your family. Look back over your life and connect with those relatives or family friends who spoke well, who were charming and who knew how to tell a good story. Surely there are lessons there that you can use in your next speech. Dig up those old lessons and recycle them into your speaking style. They are sure to be a hit.
Do a lot of taste testing. This is the one I like the best! Good cooks know the importance of tasting during preparation. Good speakers should do the same. During the preparation process, when you are organizing your content and developing your PowerPoint slides, practice your delivery and test, test, test. Make the changes needed to get that stew simmering.
Add a pinch, a dash or a smidge. This is essential for creative cooks and essential for passionate speakers at all levels. Look for that unusual quote, troubling statistic, moving story, or funny joke. Use the law of threes and organize your talk around three key ideas. Create a great theme and then embellish, embellish, embellish.
Don’t cry over spilled milk. Everyone makes mistakes, even in the kitchen. So if you make a mistake when giving your presentation, keep on going and don’t announce it to the audience. If you fumble, forget or fidget, don’t let it get to you. Just make sure you learn from it, wipe up the spill and work harder next time to present yourself in your best light.
Most of all, remember that the best recipe is the one with your personal touch. So no matter what your topic or presentation format, make it your own and be yourself. When you do, your listeners will eat it up!