Every now and then I get a good idea. We all do! When it happens, it is so easy to throw caution to the wind and begin rehearsing your speech right away so you can get as much rehearsal time in as possible and make an impact on your audience.
One area of speech preparation that many big thinkers tend to neglect is the value of the speech writing process. One way to make sure you talk about your most important ideas, hit your main points in an organized manner, and connect with your audience is to invest the time to create a robust speaking outline.
So where do you begin? As a community built around big ideas, TEDxAsburyPark consulted some of the area’s most seasoned speaking coaches and organizations to fill us in on what speech writing is all about!
Tip #1: Get it all out
Clear some time in your schedule and in your mind-turning off the TV, music, and freeing yourself from any potential distractions.
Write down everything you want to say about your topic if you had no time restrictions on your speech. If you’re having a hard time articulating this, consider “pulling out your soapbox.” Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking skills, says “We all have soapbox issues...it is a subject you are already passionate about, so use that as material...how many times have you preached on your soapbox issue to friends and family?”
Record yourself “on your soapbox.” TEDxAsburyPark speaker team volunteer and speaking coach Kel Grant recommends that her clients record themselves speaking their ideas aloud using a recording app on their phone. Saying the idea aloud and recording provides an outlet to the reluctant writer and ensures you won’t articulate that idea perfectly only to forget how you said it.
Tip #2: Develop your main points
When you read all of the ideas you just wrote, identify the main themes those ideas fall in. Write those themes down in the form of headers and put each of your ideas under the appropriate header they fall under. The headers will eventually become your main points. If you are unsure what the “magic number” of main points should be, consider how you feel about the points you came up with. Would you rather prioritize three of those points and spend more time talking about each of them or would you prefer to touch on five different points, but at a higher level?
As long as you give equal priority in how much time you spend on each point and they are mutually exclusive of one another, you have creative freedom to move those ideas from point to point as you see fit until you feel comfortable with the flow of ideas.
Once your content is in place, create an outline. Kel recommends a simple speaking outline with bullet points only (not in complete sentences) so the speaker does not feel married to a manuscript but can internalize their topic throughout the rehearsal process.
Tip #3: Cater your speech to your audience
You know why you chose the topic you did. It’s something you are passionate about! Now it is time to cater your message to your audience. Consider how you first became interested in the topic. Consider why your audience should buy in to your idea.
An easy way to do this is to return to your objective. During TEDxAsburyPark’s Halloween Hackathon, speaker team volunteer and professional speaking coach MK Harby, said your objective is simply the “I want...I want to heal, anger or shepard the audience.” Does your point help you achieve the “I want?” If not, then it probably requires a change in wording or maybe the information does not belong in this particular speech.
While the writing process is more difficult for some than others who naturally process ideas through scribe, it is an important step in making sure none of your ideas are left behind in a world that needs to hear them.