In last two weeks, I have had the good fortune to be a part of demonstration meetings for a new Toastmasters Club forming at Proctor & Gamble’s Lima Ohio Plant. As we were leaving, one of my Toastmaster friends asked me if I follow a blueprint for writing speeches so quickly. The truth is, that I do. I’ve never really talked about it before but this is what works for me.
1. I start with the manual objectives.
Toastmasters are given manuals that give us a new objective for every speech. The first speech, The Icebreaker, is an introduction of members to the club. The following projects require the speaker to grow in different ways from organizing our thoughts, to improving body language and vocal variety.
Starting with the manual objective gives me a starting point for where to put my focus and choose stories and topics that will achieve the goal outlined.
If you’re not giving a Toastmasters speech, this step can be skipped, but the next one is mandatory
2. I Identify My purpose for speaking
Every speech, talk or presentation starts with what I want my audience to take away from hearing me speak. Before I write a single word, I must identify what I want my audience to think, feel or do differently as a result of hearing me speak. This is the hardest, most important part of the entire process.
Having a purpose keeps me focused on my audience and keeps me from rambling. Before I begin, I must know my point.
3. I Find the Right story
Once I have identified my purpose for speaking, I’m ready to tell my story.
There’s nothing as powerful as a good story. I’m pretty sure there’s a reason Christ never just answered a question, but instead, told a story; when we remember a story, we remember the point.
I keep a file of stories that I constantly refer back to and I would encourage you to do the same. Every story ahs multiple points to make; it’s just my job as the speaker to find the right one that proves this point.
4. I Write The Story First
There’s an age-old debate about whether or not to write your speech word for word. I always do.
I write my speech word for word is because I can count my words and know how much time I’m going to fill. Rambling speeches when we aren’t properly prepared. Writing forces discipline, and helps come up with the right word for the right moment. However, I NEVER DELIVER IT WORD FOR WORD. Not only is it boring, it’s insulting to my audience.
I always write the story first. It’s the part that I know and it gets words on the screen which is a huge first step. If I know my main point, and I know the way I’m going to make it, I will have a better idea of how to introduce it.
5. I Write the Open and the Close
I always write my open and my close last and I do them together.
When I do this, I look at my story and I ask; what’s the best way to introduce this topic that will make the audience pay attention to me? Sometimes, it’s a question. Other times, it’s Once Upon A time story and other times, it’s a startling statement. It depends on my point and my story.
I write my closing and open together because I want them to match. If I ask a question, I want to answer it. If I begin with Once Upon A Time, there must be Happily Ever After and if it’s a fact, I have to prove it.
When my close ties back to my open, it gives my audience a feeling that we’ve gone full circle together. It makes it all complete and that’s always my goal.
This is the recipe I follow. I’m not a slave to it, but it gives me freedom to make my point by telling my story. I didn’t mention how I practice, but this is what works for me to write a speech. I’d love to hear what works for you.