Thursday, May 8, 2008

Steps To Easier Speech Writing

Writen by Tracy Brinkmann

All the great speechwriters over the course of history have noted that they spend twenty to forty hours writing routine business or political speeches. Winston Churchill claimed to have spent forty years studying the craft of speech writing ? and still would labor for hours over just the right phrase for his message. The process of writing an effective speech can certainly consume a lot of your time. But let me share with you some proven steps that can shave a large amount of time off your speech preparation. You can then turn around and use that time to practice your speech using the practice process I shared with you back in January. (Don't have the practice process? You can get it by sending an email to mailto:

• SDRAWKCAB KROW. (Work backwards) Think of your speech as if it were a road trip. You wouldn't start out on the road if you didn't know where you were going. If you had to crunch your entire presentation down to one or two sentences what would they be? Once you know these one or two sentences you have your theme and the message you want your audience to walk away with. Now you can build a well-organized speech your audience can follow. Keep referring back to these one or two sentences and insure your not headed off on a verbal detour as you are writing your speech. Ask yourself, "Does this add to or take away from my message?" If it takes away from it, even a little bit, dump it from your content.

• FIND THE FACTS. Every once in a while you will be asked to speak on a subject that is not a part of your core capabilities. Here it is very important that you spend the time doing the research to insure you get all the facts, and that you get them straight. Luckily for us the Internet has made this task far easier than it was in the past. However, there is another side to that coin. The Internet has made available a mass of information that can quickly intimidate even the veteran speaker. So zero in on your message and weed out the information that does not add to that message. In your research do not forget about the old faithful resources like newspapers, libraries etc.

• GRAB THEM FROM THE BEGINNING. Take the time create an opening that hooks your audience from the very start. Some ways to accomplish this are moving stories, disquieting statements, humor, famous quotes, and though provoking questions. Whichever technique you use, use it powerfully and use it effectively. Your opening is just about the most important part of your speech. You want to take their mind away from whatever they are preoccupied with and focus their attention on your message. An effective opening does this for you. An effective opening will also build rapport and credibility with your audience so use it to your advantage.

• THEME IT AND SPICE IT UP. The human mind does not learn in swells of information. It learns in small increments. So one of the greatest retention tools you can build into your speech or presentation is a repetitive theme. Your theme will serve as a great memory aid, helping you through your presentation from opening to close and giving a level of continuity to your audience. Be sure to theme your title as well! Use the title and the introduction of your presentation to get your audience interested in the topic before you have uttered a single word. Again, you will need to know exactly what your speech's goal is then theme the title to accomplish that goal. For example, if your objective is to share with your audience ten ways to save on their taxes, then a possible title could be "Taxes ? from their pocket to yours, not the other way around." Then use anecdotes to drive home the message of your speech and your theme. Collect stories and anecdotes and store them away for future use. You can get them from newspapers, magazines and on the web. I have two file folders full of material that I pull out when I need a story to help me drive home a point.

• SPEAK LIKE THE EXPERT. Given the fact that you are the one in front on the audience, it is safe to assume that you know more than the majority of those listening to your speech. So go up there with the confidence that you are the expert. You've done your homework, you have researched and rehearsed your material and you have it down cold. Confidently make your way to the stage and give them what they are waiting for. I have yet to find an audience that wants a speaker to fail. In fact most audiences are very forgiving when you stumble (both physically and verbally), many even offer some assistance during these awkward times. Before you go on stage, breathe deeply a few times and practice saying these words: Red leather, yellow leather. This will not only take you mind off the butterflies in your stomach but it will help loosen up your lips and tongue.

• PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. Read the material to yourself 5-10 times quietly. Read the material 5-10 times aloud. Make a voice recording of your practice. Review your tape and see where you want to change things. Practice your presentation in its entirety in front of a mirror. Here you'll make changes in your facial expressions. Video tape yourself. Now you are working on your overall presentation and body language. Finally you can give a practice performance to a safe audience. Solicit their feedback and incorporate it into your presentation.

• NOTES? This is a double-edged sword. It is better to have you material down so you can give your speech from the heart rather than from the card. But I know from experience that having those notes can be a lifesaver. 3x5 cards are well suited for carry around notes. They can be easily concealed on your body for quick and easy retrieval. Then cupped in the hand they are not as distracting as having an 8.5 x 11-inch piece of paper. If you are going to be behind a podium then full size paper is quite effective. On your notes put down the key ideas for each area of your speech, rather than creating word for word notes. By creating key word or key idea notes you will avoid the temptation of reading your speech from your notes. This will enable you to easily connect to and build a better rapport with your audience.

• CLOSE WITH A BANG. Here you will wrap up your entire speech and give your audience something to take away with them. That something could be new information to contemplate, or a call to action. Be sure to reinstate the importance of the speech to them. Remember all audiences listen to WIIFM, What's In It For Me? So share with them the value of your speech to them. If you took step one and worked backwards you've probably already created your closing. Often your closing will work hand in hand with your opening, taking them back to the beginning, but now with the new information and call to action that you have presented.

Writing an effective speech is easy to some but a task to most. However, it is always a rewarding experience once you have created it, rehearsed it and presented it. When your audience comes up to you one by one and thanks you for your new information, your inspiring ideas or your motivating talk, you will be filled with pride and glad that you took the time to do it right.

Think successfully & Take Action!
Tracy Brinkmann Tracy Brinkmann is an goal setting and success counselor. Through his company Success Atlas, he provides goal-setting, motivational & educational material, & training via live presentations as well as digital/audio products. Sign up for his free e-Zine

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