Whether it’s a new exercise regimen or crafting a speech, getting starting with any project is always the hardest part. So here a few tricks to get you started.
- Identify your goal. What do you want or need to achieve in your speech. Maybe you need to motive a sales team. Or you need a judge to agree with your argument. Perhaps you want your interviewer to see you as the answer to his problem. Whatever your goal, articulate it in one sentence. Pretend it’s a mission statement. It is the mission of your speech to do… fill in the blank.
- Find your keywords. I like to ask my clients to find one or two keywords for every major topic or point they want to make in their speech. They think this is easy and come up with words off the top of their heads. Rarely, however are these words specific or provocative enough to carry any lasting weight with their audience. So when you are identifying your words, dig deep. Don’t say influence when you can say inspire. Don’t say partner when you can say collaborate. Words have color and weight and can evoke images and emotions. Use keywords to tell your story.
- Create a structure. Think back to junior high when you first learned how to create an outline. I remember thinking it was a pointless lesson at the time, and now I think fondly of my teacher Mr. Thames regularly. Use your keywords as bullet points for each point you need to cover, and find keywords as bullet points below that to keep you clear and on topic.
- Write it out. This is a very controversial tip in my business. Some experts advise against it. I think it is essential, not because you should memorize it (or worse read from it) when you are presenting, but because it helps familiarize you with what you want to say and how you get to your goal. Often I find that the idea and logic that sounded great in my head was not as clear and persuasive on paper. Writing it out can truly help.
- Write in your pauses. This may sound odd, but pauses are words, too. They can help you tell your story, emphasize a point, reengage your audience. However, to make a pause effective, you need to plan it out. Shakespeare used the rhythm of iambic pentameter to guide the actor to the pauses. You don’t need to be that elegant or complicated. Just write them in – not too many, not too few.
- Call to Action. Don’t forget your closing. Any speech can be weakened by a lackluster closing. If you read any blog about blogging, they always tell you to ask a question. This is the social media cue to engage the audience. Find the right cue for your audience. Give them something to do. Send them away with homework or ask them to go home and think about one point you discussed. Make it active, make it relevant, make it clear, and make it brief.
- Wordle It. Once your speech is written go to Wordle.net. Go to ‘Create,’ and paste the text of your speech. This will create a word cloud. You will find the largest and boldest words are the ones you used most. Are they your keywords? Are they sending the right message? If not, go back and rework your script until you are happy with the results.
Now, no excuses – it’s time to get started. Let me know how it goes.