Great Speechwriters Know How To Start From The End

by drjim on May 21, 2013

You don't want to start writing a speech at the beginning, instead start at the end

You don’t want to start writing a speech at the beginning, instead start at the end
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Quick question for you: what’s the difference between a sculptor and a painter? It turns out that the answer is pretty simple: a sculptor creates by removing, a painter creates by adding. A similar difference exists between good and not-so good speech writers. The good ones know to start writing their next speech from the end…

Using The Reporter Test

We all know about the importance of public speaking and since we want to be effective public speakers we are always looking for ways to deliver more effective speeches. Saying that you are going to create your next speech starting at the end turns out to be a lot easier to say than to do. For some odd reason, we humans like our stories to start at the beginning and to make their way to the end. However, in order to write a great speech you are going to have to turn this thinking on its head.

One way to go about doing this is to help yourself to focus on the end of your speech. A great way to make this happen is to place yourself in the role of a reporter who has been assigned to write a newspaper article about your speech. Don’t worry about what would be in the body of the article, rather focus on what the headline would contain.

The reason that this is such an effective technique is that by keeping your focus on what the “headline” for you speech is, you can actively trim away any content that does not relate to that headline. This becomes more and more critical as you collect information to use in your speech. A lot of that information shouldn’t find its way into your speech and your headline is how you’ll be able to make that determination.

How To Stay On Track

Since most of us also create decks of slides to use with most of our presentations, we can create a real problem when we sit down at our computer and start to create the introduction slide.

Since we now want to create our presentations starting at the end, we need to take into account what self-help author Steven Covey listed as one of the 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People: “…start with the end in mind…”. What this means for us is that instead of starting by creating the first slide in our deck, we should instead start by creating the very last slide that we’ll show in the deck.

What should be on this very last slide? Hopefully it’s going to be the summary of what you wanted your audience to take away from your speech. What this means for you is that it should not be any longer than 3 bullet points and each of those bullet points should use as few words as possible.

What All Of This Means For You

Getting up in front of an audience to give a speech is never an easy thing to do. We do it because we believe in the benefits of public speaking. As long as you are going to make the effort, it sure seems as though you should be able to make an impact on your audience’s lives. A well written speech will help you to accomplish this.

The best speeches are written starting with the end. This allows the writer to keep a laser focus on just exactly what their speech is all about. Anything that does not line up with the end of the speech is removed from the speech.

The ability to write powerful and effective speeches is a gift. Use the technique of starting at the end and using this to keep your focus throughout the entire speech as a tool to make your next speech be even more effective.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: What should you do if you discover something that you really want to include in your speech but which is not currently a part of your conclusion?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When it comes time to sit down and write your next speech, are you going to be worried that you’ll end up boring your audience? You know what I mean, they’re paying some attention to you, but you can clearly see that their minds are a million miles away. Since we know about the importance of public speaking, we can’t let that happen! Instead, when you write that speech you need to use the techniques that are going to allow you to both capture and hold onto your audience’s attention during your entire speech…

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