Speech writing is often one of the most difficult processes involved in crafting a speech but it needn’t be. Most new public speakers come to my courses, seminars and one on one training with questions relating to writing a speech. There are many questionable speech writing methods that beginning speakers employ that both complicate & impede their speaking endeavors. In this second installment (see part I series on speech writing) I will explore the most effective techniques to develop your speech:
Develop An Outline
Your speech is a journey. Your audience needs to know your key premise and understand where you intend to bring them along the path to your conclusion. This is most successfully accomplished in the writing phase with a proper outline. An outline allows you to organize your thoughts before you go any further in the writing process and keep yourself (and your audience) on the path to the desired outcome of the speech. With a well developed outline you are in good shape to further develop the content of your speech. You can guarantee that the flow of ideas will capture the audience and deliver the message you intend, leaving you to just focus on powerful, authentic delivery.
Write Out Your Speech
Writing a speech and an academic paper or article are not the same process. That is to say, writing content to be delivered for print or web isn’t the same as writing a speech. If we treat these very different tasks as equivalent we are headed for difficulty. For most beginning speakers this is where they learn to dislike the process of speaking. The mistakenly think they need to write a literary masterpiece, memorize it by rote memorization and deliver it from memory. This is entirely incorrect, inverted and inefficient method. Novice speakers then worry far to much about delivering the content they have written word for word or worse yet – reading their content. Doing so impairs your ability to deliver with vocal vigor and body language which you need to be effective as a speaker.
Boil Down Method
Now that we have written out our speech we should start to “boil it down” or condense it to its key points. With my public speaking students I do this be having them go through multiple revisions of their speech were they simplify and condense the content in their speeches from a paragraphs, to sentences and then finally a condensed form that would fit on a single (or multiple) flash card(s). Sound impossible? It isn’t. In fact, it will liberate you from the pains of rote memorization and its ensuing robotic, lifeless delivery. Your speaking will be focused on passionate and conversational and that will lead to positive reception to your speech.
Now that you have a simplified your content from its original draft and successive revisions to a boiled down a “skeleton” simplified form we can practice our speech. As trite as it sounds, practice does make perfect. We can only improve if we invest our time and effort to do so. I recommend my students invest time practicing recording themselves in front of a smartphone or webcam and reviewing their performance for clues on where they might improve. Practice in front of family, friends, etc. also provide a great way to learn what you are doing right and the areas of improvement you might explore. Practice and you will reap the rewards of speech success.
Hopefully these methods will be of help in your speaking endeavors. My only hope is your speaking success! Please let me know what works for you and what doesn’t. We love your comments, feedback and questions – so please leave them below!