Create Better Speeches By Becoming A Better Speech Editor

Get more out of your next speech by cutting more of it out
Get more out of your next speech by cutting more of it out
Image Credit: Eelke

I can only speak for myself, but I can tell you that every word that I write when I’m putting together a speech is pure perfection. The words just flow together and create a seamless whole. The very idea of going back and editing one of my speeches after it has been written just seems to be a travesty – who would want to mess with perfection? This is the speech that I am going to use to show my audience the importance of public speaking. Ok, so maybe my writing is not really all that good. However, the effort involved in editing one of my speeches is so great that I often don’t want to do it. However, it turns out that if you want to find a way to pack more of a punch into your next speech, you are going to need to be willing to do some serious editing of what you’ve written.

Unnecessary Things: Platitudes and Redundancy

I have to admit that using platitudes in my speech, statements that have been over used, is all too easy to do. You know exactly what I mean. When we sit down to write out a speech, it can be very easy to work in phrases like “There is no I in team” or “good things come to those who wait”. The problem with phrases like these is that your audience has hear them before – there’s nothing new there. Instead, what you want to do is to treat your audience to new thoughts and ideas. What you are going to want to do is to substitute short, punchy phrases for the old time-worn ones. Think of using something like “People who wait can turn to stone before anything good ever happens to them.”

Unfortunately we’ve all heard the saying that when we are giving a speech we should “tell ‘em what your going to say, then tell them again.” It turns out that our audiences are actually pretty smart and if we start to repeat ourselves they will detect it and tune us out. When you are editing your speech you are going to want to get rid of any superfluous statements that you may have included. This is the kind of thing that can show up especially when we are trying to make a point in our speech. We may have collected a number of examples that all show the same thing. We need to take a careful look at how we are supporting our main points and then drop anything that is not needed.

Space Fillers: Unnecessary Words and Needless Complications

When we are told that we are going to be expected to fill a given amount of time with our speech, it can be very easy to start to look around for extra words to put into our speech simply to make it last longer. This is not a good idea because our audience will be able to spot the fluff and they’ll start to tune us out. When you edit what you have written, you’ll want to be looking for extra words and phrases that do not belong in your speech. Your goal should be to cut the number of words that you are using in half (it’s good to have goals). If you can accomplish this then you’ll be able to fit more into your speech and you’ll come across as being both brief and concise. Every audience will love you for doing this.

Whenever we have an important speech to give, we always like to do our homework. This means that we’ll go out and collect all of the required information that we can find and then we’ll try to fit it all into our speech. The problem with this is that if we are not careful, we can end up overloading our speech. We need to think about our audience for just a moment – what is their state going to be when they are listening to our speech? If they are like most audiences, they may have had a long day and are tired. If our speech requires that they do a lot of thinking in order to understand what we are trying to tell them, then we are going to lose them. As speakers, what we need to do is to streamline, simplify, and summarize the information that we’ve collected so that our audience does not have to. Skip the complicated stuff and prevent your audience from tuning you out.

What All Of This Means For You

As the person who will be creating our next speech, we can often have a very high opinion of what we have created. However, the challenge is that if we are not careful, our audience may not feel the same way and won’t get the benefits of public speaking! What we need to learn how to do is to go back once we have created a speech and do some serious editing. As speakers our goal has to be to create a speech that will capture the imagination of our audience, not put them to sleep.

Platitudes are phrases that we all tend to work into our everyday conversations. When we are giving a speech, we want to get rid of them. Our audience will have heard them many, many times before and we don’t want to bore them by telling them something that they’ve heard before. We also have to be careful to eliminate any redundancy from our speeches. It turns out that our audiences are actually quite smart and once we’ve told them something, they should be able to remember it without us having to tell it to them again. When we’ve written out a speech we need to go back over it looking for any unnecessary words or phrases. Our goal should be to cut our speech in half so that we can wow and amaze our audience with bright clear content. We also have to respect our audience and although we may have a lot to share with them, we need to be careful to not require them to think too much about what we are telling them.

Creating content for a speech can seem like a difficult job. Laying out our our ideas and then finding ways to spin them all together can be a real challenge. We can become very proud of the speech that we’ve been able to create; however, creating the speech is only the beginning – now we have to go back and do some serious editing of it. We have to remove everything that is not going to contribute to getting our main point across to our audience. No, editing is not easy to do, but if we take the time then we can craft a speech that will be remembered by our audience long after we are done giving it.

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

Question For You: Do you think that it would be ok to repeat some of your speech for emphasis or effect or would this be too much?

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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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