Episode 11: October 3, 2008
by Lisa B. Marshall
Hey gang, this week picks up from last week's episode, where we talked about How to Write a Speech, Part I. We were talking about how difficult and time consuming it can be to develop an interesting and engaging speech. That’s why I created a quick and dirty six-step speech creation technique to make it easier for you.
Last week we covered the first three steps: choosing the topic, brainstorming and defining adjectives, and recording stories for each of the adjectives. Today, we’ll continue with step four, fleshing out your stories.
Step Four – Fleshing Out Your Stories
In step three, we recorded stories that are examples of the chosen adjectives. The fourth step is a little bit harder, because you’ll need to develop your stories a bit. Good stories usually include a setting, dialog, and descriptive detail. (They include other things as well, but for the beginner these are the important things to include.) So see if you can incorporate a setting, dialog, and descriptive detail.
If you remember one of my stories was about John going to grad school, here’s the story fleshed out.
“I know that John was motivated because even though he was very seriously ill, he chose to pursue a rigorous graduate school education at the University of Pennsylvania. I remember, one day, he was in the hospital, and again I was trying to convince him to just drop out of school. [Notice, the hospital was the setting, and here comes the dialog.] With all his strength he whispered to me, “I would rather work towards a goal and learn as much as I can, even if I don’t ever get the chance to use it.”
As you can see by my example, the stories or examples don’t need to be that long. Just a few sentences—three or four is enough to make your point.
Once you’ve verbally refined your stories, remember to jot some notes or key words for each story underneath the definitions you wrote in step two. It is important not to write out every word of your story. You just want key words as a reminder of the story you are going to tell.
Step Five – Pulling It All Together
Now it’s time to pull it all together. Take out the last two pieces of paper. On the top of one write the word “beginning” and on the other one write the word “ending.”
Speeches are about sharing ideas and concepts that are intangible and difficult for the audience to grasp. The main idea of this approach is to make the invisible visible through the stories, the definitions, and the examples.
On your “beginning” page you’ll need to write out the following four pieces of information.
You’ll need to say who you are and your relationship to the person or project,
You’re going to say how you met or know the person or got involved with the project (if it is obvious you can skip this step)
You’re going to tell them the purpose of the gathering.
You’ll say that you are going to share three words, just three simple words and then list your three words.
So following my example…I would say
I’m Lisa, John’s wife.
As John requested, we’re here to celebrate life and to share our memories of him.
I’d like to share with you three simple words, three words that for me, describe John--motivated, compassionate, and strong-willed.
The reason I had you choose three adjectives (and not two or four) is because of the rule of three. The rule of three suggests that things in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or even more effective than other numbers of things. We often hear this rule in slogans, for example you might remember "A Mars a day helps you to work, rest, and play" or remember the advice you were given as a kid, ”Stop, look, and listen” before you cross the street, or in fires to “Stop, drop, and roll.”
Many things are structured in threes, like movie trilogies (The Godfather Trilogy) or speeches, with a beginning, middle, and end. Of course there’s also the three musketeers, three little pigs, and many more examples.
Of course, now that you know the rule, you’ll notice it all the time. One other thing to keep in mind--when you organize your three adjectives, put your strongest choice last, and the weakest choice in the middle. And when you deliver your talk, be sure to talk about them in the same order you just arranged them.
Now you just need to complete the ending. On the piece of paper where you wrote “ending”, just write this:
Today, I wanted to share with you a few words about T (T being your topic) and I hope that through these three simple words, X, Y, and Z (your adjectives) you now know more than when I started.
Finally, depending on the occasion and the topic you might want to add a very brief toast, a blessing, or a prayer.
Step Six – Deliver the Talk
Speeches are about sharing ideas and concepts. These are intangible and many times difficult for the audience to grasp. The main idea of this quick and dirty approach is to make the invisible visible through the stories, the definitions, and the examples.
When it’s time to deliver the speech, organize your five main papers in the correct order. Tell them your beginning, and move the middle by stating the first adjective, describing your definition, and moving onto your story. Continue with your speech using the second and third adjectives.
It’s very important that you don’t read your notes directly. Talk to your audience; talk as if you are having a conversation with one single person. Tell the stories as if you are sitting at the dinner table. Let your natural feelings show. Your audience will remember your three key messages through the adjectives, definitions, and most importantly, the related stories that you share.
The next time you are asked to give a speech, you can relax. Last week you learned the first three steps, this week you learned, Step Four: refining your stories, Step Five: pulling it all together, and Step Six: delivering your speech. Now you know the Public Speaker’s quick and dirty six-step technique for making a sincere, interesting, and engaging presentation. I encourage you to give it try. And, hey, don’t forget to come back and tell us how it went!
This is the Lisa B. Marshall. Passionate about communication your success is my business.