Here’s a fast way to get those words on paper in a way that is compelling, makes a persuasive argument, and creates an emotional connection – in just one day!
Sounds too good to be true? Because it IS too good to be true.
Any speech you write in a day will get you stomped by your competition. Most presenters out there are spending a day throwing their speech together and a year trying to sell it. Why? Because they think speaking is the easy part. Most of those presenters end up in a graveyard of low fees and empty calendars. Don’t be like them. Treat your speech with the reverence it deserves. It’s your product and your best marketing.KSwanson
How to Structure a Speech in a Day
Ahhh. I like that much better. Yes. That’s workable. I can certainly help you create a solid sound structure that does what you need for it to do. The foundation for a great speech. You won’t be done yet. But it will be a darn good start.
In the beginning of my career, I would sit down at a computer and just start writing that speech or story, hoping it would end up somewhere nice without too many re-starts. This was frustrating and exhausting, until I found a way to control my speech instead of letting it control me. I created a template to fill out before each speech. I call it the Data Gathering stage of the process. This information was critical for me to deliver a program that fulfilled the meeting planner’s requirements, gave quality content, and tapped into the motives and desires of my listener to reach ultimate connection and engagement. Once I completed the template, I was then able to add stories and other elements that would take it from informative, to compelling and emotional.
The Speech Writing Template
This template is meant to be a suggested guide. You can add your own questions, move things around in a different order, or whatever else you like. This is your speech, so many style choices are up to you. There is not one right way to give a speech. We don’t want everybody creating one speech model that looks like all the others or we all end up in the chorus line.
So let’s get to it.
Who Am I?
The audience buys YOU first. Take the opening moment to become human instead of just a talking head.
What will you choose to tell the audience about yourself? This is just the stage of getting to know them, so don’t overthink it. You can talk about where you are from. A hobby you have. Something people may not know about you. Try to make it a little bit interesting.
What Do We Have In Common?
The key to having impact is being able to relate to your audience. They need to understand that you “get them” and can relate to them on some level.
Maybe you had a job like theirs once. Maybe your life was impacted by someone in their industry. Maybe your challenges are very similar to theirs. They see you as a mystical figure on that stage doing something most of them could never dream of doing. Take a moment to become a real person just like them.
Why Am I Here?
Give them a quick overview of why you’re here today and what you will be talking about. Don’t use fancy words that don’t make sense. Just speak straight.
Use phrases like, “In our time together today, I’m going to show you how to have more influence as leaders, using a tool that you might not even know you have. We’re going to talk mainly about why the tool works, and I will send you home with a resource that will show you how to use it.”
Don’t get overly caught up in how you write this. Remember, it’s really a data gathering step in the process. You can make the writing more compelling in your next stage.
What’s the Problem We Share?
You’re here to solve a problem they have. Maybe more than one. What problem(s) does this audience have right now and how is it making them feel?
The key is not to tell them they have a problem, but that “we” have a problem. Say something like, “Our jobs are very different, but there is one thing we have in common. We are both trying to get our teams to do what we want them to do, not because we said so, but because they want to.”
You want them nodding that they have this problem. So don’t use fancy words or slick speaker lingo – use the words they use – the words the meeting planner used when telling you about this audience.
How Did I Experience This Problem in My Own Life?
Your credibility is increased when you go beyond being the expert who wrote the book, to the real person who actually experienced this problem and found a solution.
Look deep into your own life and business for examples. They don’t have to be exactly the same problem as your audience. They can just share a common element. For example, “I remember my years as a mother to a teenager, and how I struggled to find words that would truly change his behavior. Getting buy-in from him was harder than in any workplace I experienced. But I found a way to give my words more impact and I saw results almost immediately.”
What happens if we don’t fix this problem?
Paint the picture of what could happen if they don’t address this problem – how bad it could get – and how it would involve others down the line. You want to raise the stakes to create a sense of urgency to fix the problem.
What Happens if We Do?
Now you paint the picture of what their lives would look like without this problem and raise the stakes as much as you can to show a ripple effect of positive change.
What Mental Shift Did I Have to Experience Before I Could Fix This Problem?
Usually most problems involve a mental shift, or a theme that really holds everything together. An umbrella under which all your content falls. That “one thing” that really sums it up.
For example, “When it comes to influencing others, I had to come to this point where I stopped focusing on the information, and started focusing on the experience. I realized it wasn’t about communication, it was about connection. Once I shifted my focus, I began to see dramatic results.”
Here are Three Ways that I Was Able To….
There is no hard and fast rule as to how many major points you make in your speech. 3 or 4 is a good number for the brain to compartmentalize. You can talk as much or as little as you want under each one, but give your audience the structure to see how all this content fits together in buckets.
Your client should let you know their main goals and objectives. Just keep in mind that there is only so much you can and should do in a limited amount of time – only so much they can process. Don’t kill them with data. You can always put more content in a handout, or an online resource and give them a reason to reach out to you for more.
Content Block 1
An easy way of mapping out your content within each heading, is to use this formula: Story + Lesson + Action Step. You can always tell one story, and then give three lessons that spin off. The choice is yours.
Content Block 2
Keep in mind that you can say as much or as little as you want in each block. You can even say, “Today I will go deep into the first concept, and you can read my book to access the other two.”
Content Block 3
You get to choose how many and where you put stories in this speech. Just remember that stories actually do the persuading and force your listener to engage and interact mentally. Don’t leave them out. They are important.
Share an example of someone that you worked with, and the dramatic impact your solution had on their life. Choose an example that closely mirrors the pains and desires of your audience.
You can tell a story of your own success if you want, in addition to someone else’s. We like to hear how your story turned out once you applied these new truths. This is a great way to show people that you coach if that’s part of your business model.
This is NOT a chance to repeat all your content, but to merely recap the main points. Some of them might have missed a segment and will want to write it down in their notes.
Call to Action
This is your chance to ask them for something – to sign up for your newsletter – to go meet you at the book table – to go check out your Youtube channel. It’s usually best to only ask them one thing, and be very careful about “selling” from the platform. Many clients hate that and you need to be more subtle.
I Know What You’re Thinking
As in any sales transaction, the listener has some silent objections, and you being able to state out loud what they are thinking will serve you well. So take this moment to address what you perceive are their last minute concerns.
For example, “I know that you’re thinking this was a lot of information and you’re not sure where to turn. That’s why I have created a strategic next step document that is waiting in your online resource.”
Words of Encouragement
People like to be encouraged and motivated and appreciated for their importance to their organizations. If you can find a way to do this, it adds a nice touch.
I call this structure my Anatomy of a Presentation, but you can also answer these questions in regards to your brand story. Much of what you create here can be used for web and marketing content. Pretty cool, eh?
And there you have it. A nice solid structure that makes a compelling logical easy-to-understand progression. But your job is not done. Now you need to look at how to take this information and deliver it in a unique way that gets their attention. There are many ways to get there. But that’s an article for another day. If you need any help, you know where to find me.