Go to any book store and you’ll find a 6″ long section of books that promise to teach you how to deliver a speech in public better. What’s all to often missing from this avalanche of advice is any real guidance on how to create a speech that will work for your audience. No matter how well you deliver a speech, it will all be for naught if the speech itself does not do a good job of telling your story & making your point.
Perhaps this is a good time for us to take a moment and consider what a speech really is (I’m a big fan of the basics). At its core, a speech is simply an opportunity for you to tell your audience about something that you are interested in. The part that all too many people seem to overlook is that you really want your speech to be memorable. In other words, after you stop talking, you would like people in the audience to be able to remember what you said, and even better, take action based on it. This all means that WHAT you say and HOW you say it are very important. Here’s the zinger: it’s not the topic that boring, but rather how it’s presented that can be boring.
Sometimes you get to pick what you want to talk about, most of the time you are told. The very first question that you need to ask yourself is: why am I giving this speech? What is my one, single purpose? This can generally be found in one of five big words: to inform, to inspire, to entertain, to motivate, or to convince. Once you’ve picked one of these (yes, you can only pick one) then you are set to do the most important part of speech creation: pick the slant.
The slant (or focus if you prefer) is what makes your speech stand out. You want to pick a particular angle that your audience may not be expecting and then you approach your subject from there.
Finally, you need to boil your entire speech down into one single sentence. This sentence, if printed on cards and and handed out to your audience, would leave them with the essence of your speech if you were not able to show up and speak. You would never hand out this sentence and in fact you might not even use it as part of your speech. However, simply by creating it you will have allowed the main point of your speech to crystallize in your head that that will make all the difference in the world.
How good of a job do you feel that you do when you have to write a speech? Do you take the time to determine the ultimate purpose of your speech? How do you go about picking the slant that you want to use? Have you ever written down just one sentence that describes the point that you want to make? Leave a comment and let me know what you are thinking.