Make Your Next Speech Better With A Single Sentence

Take the time to think about what you really want to say
Take the time to think about what you really want to say
Image Credit: andrechinn

As speakers, we all know that creating a great speech is hard work. All too often we can sit down to start to create a speech and have no clear idea where we are trying to go or just exactly what points we want to be making while we deliver our speech despite our understanding of the importance of public speaking. As we put our speech together, things just tend to go from bad to worse – our words start to fall over each other and we end up with disjointed ideas and incomplete thoughts. We all understand that our problem is not that we can’t write words down, rather it’s that we can’t get our words to make sense. The reason that we are running into this problem is because we are not being clear in our objective. Instead, we find ourselves trying to say too much and, as result, ending up saying nothing.

Where We Go Wrong When We Create A Speech

The good news for us is that we are not alone. How we are feeling when we sit down to create a speech is the way that many speakers feel when they write speeches. They too have too many ideas competing for attention and too many themes pulling them in different directions. What happens is that there’s no way to hold their arguments together and, so, their content feels jumbled and confused.

Just to make things a little bit worse is that they lack a big idea — a powerful insight, perspective, or thought that serves as the backbone of their presentation; the big idea is the spine that holds everything together. When we are creating a speech we need to look at the big idea that will be driving our speech as being a “gift” that can be transferred from the speaker’s mind to the audience by way of a compelling speech. Here’s the secret – this big idea is what separates a memorable speech from a mediocre one.

Speakers need to realize that anyone who has an idea worth sharing is capable of giving a powerful talk. We’d like to be that person. We need to understand that the only thing that really matters in public speaking is not our confidence, our stage presence, or even how smoothly we talk. Rather, it’s having something worthwhile to say.

Speakers need to realize that if we don’t have a big idea to light our way, we’ll wander aimlessly through draft after draft of our speech until, eventually, we run out of either steam or time. In the end you’ll become so tired of going in circles you’ll simply want to give up or, worse, you’ll decide to “wing it.” We’ve all been here – we jot down some notes, throw together a few slides, slap on a title, and call it a presentation. Stop – don’t do this! You shouldn’t shortchange yourself like that. Use each speaking opportunity to give yourself the chance to create something worth saying.

It turns out that it’s actually easy to create a worthwhile speech. If you take the time to distill your thoughts into one succinct takeaway — your big idea — you can communicate with power and precision. Your audiences will walk away feeling satisfied and excited, instead of bleary-eyed and confused.

When Creating A Speech Both Decide and Determine

When we sit down to create a speech, the first thing that we should do is to decide on the topic that you want to focus on (hint: it’s usually your area of expertise or passion, i.e. creativity, leadership, communication, etc.). Your next step should be to determine what inspires you — or, conversely, what drives you insane — about this topic. As an example, you might be a health expert, say, who believes sugar is your friend or you could be a business leader who’s fed up with the current definition of success.

Take The Time To Create A Single Sentence

Now that you have identified your topic, you need to take the next step. The next question to ask yourself is: can I clearly state my position, my stance, my big idea, in one sentence? The reason that you want to distill your message into a single sentence is because it will make your writing flow better, and make your key points easier to arrange. You need to think of the single sentence as a lighthouse guiding you through fog. If you allow yourself to become overwhelmed with an abundance of data or competing themes, this single sentence will help you stay on track.

The single sentence that you create will help inform the choices you make regarding what information to keep and what to set aside in your speech. Any piece of data, story, or anecdote that doesn’t jive with your single sentence will wind up sidetracking and diluting your message. As speakers we need to understand that we need to first come up with the key message we want to leave with our audience. In your speech, let that key message be your North Star. Keep in mind that if you can’t state your idea in a single sentence, don’t give up. You need to keep at it. What you need to understand is that for many speakers, this may be the hardest part of their speech — and the most critical one.

What All Of This Means For You

I’m sorry to have to be the one who tells you that creating a speech will never be an easy thing to do. However it turns out that if you do the heavy mental lifting upfront, it will be much easier to craft clear, compelling copy when you sit down to write. As speakers we need to make figuring out your bottom-line purpose, your big idea, your first priority so that you can share the benefits of public speaking.

The way that we can go about doing this is that the next time that we sit down to create a speech, we need to take the time to boil everything that we want to say down into a single sentence. Decide what you really want to say and then determine what your single sentence will look like. This single sentence is what you are going to use to encapsulate your main topic in and you’ll use it as a guiding light as you put the rest of your speech together. It will allow you to determine what needs to go into your speech and what you can leave out.

By creating a single sentence that you can use to guide the creation of your speech, you’ll be able to create a speech that appears to be unified. All of your ideas will relate back to your main sentence. This way when you deliver your speech you’ll be sharing a cohesive set of ideas with your audience and when your speech is over, they’ll be able to walk away with a clear understanding of what your main point was.

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

Question For You: How many words do you think should be in your one main sentence?

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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 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!

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