Step 1: Your Audience
Before you start to write your speech or presentation think about who you will be speaking to, do they know anything about your topic? How do they feel about it? Do they even care?
It’s important to remember that giving a speech or presentation is not about you, it’s about your audience. You must be able to pitch your presentation at the right level for them, too technical and they’ll be confused, too easy and they’ll get bored.
To get an audience to listen to you you need to be able to answer the questions they’ll be asking in their heads:
- Why should I care?
- How will this affect me?
- How will it benefit me?
Once you can answer these questions in your speech then every audience will love you.
Step 2: First Draft
With all this in mind write your first draft.
This is not about perfection. This is simply about getting all your ideas down on paper and this achieves two things:
- You’ve moved from the state of inaction where you are agonising over the right way to begin to a state of action and progress, this is a great place to be.
- No matter what else you do, you have achieved something and more than that it gives you something to work on and improve.
Once you’ve finished writing the first draft done say it out loud.
This helps greatly because what looks good written down doesn’t always sound good when you say it. For instance your sentences could be too long, there may be some words or sentences that are hard to say or sound wrong.
As you’re speaking it out loud, you will also notice parts of your speech that you will want to change, make quick notes of the changes as you find them and continue saying the speech.
Once you’ve finished, start on draft 2.
Step 3: Drafts 2 to X
Continue the cycle of writing the speech and then speaking it out loud. Each draft will require less and less changes. Keep this cycle going until you either reach a version that you are happy with or it is time to give the presentation.
Another advantage of this cycle of writing and speaking is that it’s also a form of practising, it gives you the chance to learn the flow and language of your speech
It’s important that as you write each draft to keep checking that your speech is still being pitched at the audience’s level and addressing their needs. As you write always ask: “Will my audience get this?”
Following these three steps will ensure that you always write a speech that people will want to listen to.
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Image: EcoVirtual (Flickr)