Public Speakers Do Better When They Lose The Script

by drjim on April 23, 2013

Scripts are for movies & TV shows, not speeches!

Scripts are for movies & TV shows, not speeches!
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If I asked you to do a perfect job for the next speech that you gave, what would you do differently? I’m willing to bet that at least one thing that you’d do is write out a script and use it to deliver your speech. We’d all do this – it’s the best way to make sure that you don’t make a mistake, right? It turns out that it’s not the best way and I’m going to tell you why…

Why Do We Want To Use Scripts?

What magical power do scripts have over us – why do we seem to be drawn to them when we want to give the best speech ever? I think that the answer to this question is pretty clear: we believe that if we use a script, we won’t forget anything and our speech will be better than if we didn’t use a script. Maybe it’s because of the importance of public speaking, but we all seem to view scripts as being a sort of “silver bullet” that will solve all of our public speaking problems.

What’s interesting about this assumption is that it is completely wrong. Yes, I’ll grant you that there’s a good chance that you won’t forget to include any part of your speech if you use a script. However, it’s not going to matter because the speech that you deliver is going to be so horrible that nobody in your audience is going to get anything out of it.

The reason that speeches that are based on scripts don’t work is because of several different reasons. The first is that if you have a script, then you’re going to have to be reading off of it during your speech. This means that your head is going to appear to your audience to be bobbing up and down during the entire speech. Another problem with using a script is that it can be very difficult to keep your place while reading off of a script. This means that you have a very good chance of losing your spot and then stumbling over your words while you search for where you need to be.

Using a script might seem like your ticket to giving the perfect speech, but it’s not. There has to be a better way.

What’s A Better Way To Give A Good Speech?

If using a script during your next speech is not the way to go, what other options are there for a public speaker? Instead of trying to write out every word that you’re going to be saying, a much better approach is to create an outline for your next speech.

Creating an outline sounds easy, but upon a closer look the question comes up: what do you put into an outline? The process is always the same. You start out by identifying what the main message of your next speech is going to be (you do have a main message, don’t you?) Your next step is going to be to create three main segments in your speech that will support your main point (e.g. what the problem is, what possible solutions exist, what solution you are recommending). Now you are going to want to load each of these three sections with the jokes, quotes, and facts that you’ll want to cover at that point in your speech.

Having an outline is a great place to start, but it’s not going to be enough to get you through your next speech. You are going to have to transform that speech outline into a tool that you can use during your speech.

Your goal here should be to create a speech outline that you can fit onto a single sheet of paper – this will eliminate the need for you to do any page flipping during your speech. Next you are going to want to make sure that you haven’t written out any part of your speech on your outline. Instead, load it with words, phrases, or even pictures that will allow you to remember what you wanted to say and in what order you wanted to say it.

The goal of your outline should be to easily keep you on track during your speech. This means that you should feel free to use color and different size / types of fonts to help you easily find the section that you are looking for.

If there are any quotes or facts that you need to include in your speech, feel free to write them down. These are important and the wording that you’ll want to use when sharing them with your audience will be very important. Make sure that when you are sharing this information with your audience that you don’t just read them off to them. Instead, provide some background and then share the information that you’ve written down.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

In our quest to give the best speech possible, we are always looking for that secret way to make sure that we’ll not make a mistake when we’re giving our speech. Writing our speech out word-for-word can seem like one way to achieve perfection; however, it never seems to work out that way. One of the benefits of public speaking is that we can always learn from our mistakes and find new ways of doing things.

When we use a script to give a speech, it causes us to not connect with our audience. A much better way is to create an outline that allows us to keep track of where we are and what we want to say.

I’m not sure if it will ever be possible for any of us to give “the perfect speech”. However, by ditching the script and spending our time connecting with our audience during our speech, we’ll sure be getting a lot closer to perfection.

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

Question For You: How long do you think that an outline should be for a 30 minute speech?

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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

Congratulations, you’ve been asked to give a speech. Were you thinking about using some PowerPoint or Keynote slides with that presentation? Ok, we all know about the importance of public speaking and so that sounds like a good idea. One quick question about those slides that you’re going to be making – do you know how to make the data that you are going to be presenting memorable or is it just going to be forgettable?

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