Off the cuff

The phrase “off the cuff” is believed to have originated with waiters who were among the first people to use their shirt cuffs as notepads to take orders or to calculate the tab. Hollywood directors were the next perpetra- tors of the practice, carrying notes to actors about the scene on their shirt sleeves. Impromptu speaking has likewise become known as off the cuff. The speaker is pictured as hurriedly jotting down notes on his starched shirt cuff during the meal and delivering them afterward from an arm’s length note card.

About 99 percent of what people say is impromptu, which is defined as without preparation or advance thought. Virtually everything that people say — after-dinner speeches, discussions, product announcements, answers to questions during job interviews, new business pitches, media interviews, and arguments — is off the cuff.

Now, to help readers build up their confidence when asked to just “say a few words,” writer and communications coach Anne Cooper Ready offers them a useful combination of encouragement and preparation to face impromptu speaking in Off the Cuff. In an easy-to-reference guidebook that helps readers put words together that motivate, direct, entertain, and get a point across, Ready teaches both the basic and advanced skills that are needed to solve communication challenges ranging from apologies and meetings to introductions and rallying the troops.

Delivering ways to speak easily, effectively and fearlessly, Off the Cuffprovides readers with tips, tactics and strategies for successfully navigating through situations when communication skills are crucial, and helps them prepare for those moments when time to prepare is at a minimum.

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