7 Steps to Writing a Great Speech

woman speaker

For some people, speaking to an audience comes very easily – it’s writing their book that is the hard part. For others, it’s the opposite – writing the book in the silence of their own space was fairly easy, especially when compared to the frightening stage. Many of the authors I’ve worked with have written their books in order to open more doors for speaking engagements. Other authors know they will want or need to speak once their book is complete, but haven’t done it yet and don’t know where to start.

This article helps all would-be speakers with a format for a speech of any length, as each section or point can be expanded or contracted as needed.

Step 1: Determine your topic

This may sound a little silly, but choosing a topic is one of the hardest steps. Many writers aren’t sure what they want to talk about as their expertise is quite robust. First and foremost: Know who your audience is and what they are there to learn from you. Do they want to know how you wrote a book? Do they want to ask about the content? Are you sharing a personal story for education, inspiration, or entertainment?

Everything starts with your audience, so consider them and determine your topic based on their interest. If you aren’t sure, ask. More than likely, you’ve either been asked to speak on a specific topic, or you have already pitched your talk and were selected, but in the case that neither is true, take time to determine your topic.

Step 2: Choose 2-4 points to make during your speech

If you are doing a standard speech, choose 2-4 points that will illustrate your topic. More than this can be overwhelming and lose the audience. If you are teaching a class or workshop, this advice doesn’t apply, as you will likely have handouts, a visual presentation, or other devices for retention. But if you are giving a speech that is under an hour, choose your points and limit them.

Step 3: Start with a hook

Just like you start your book with a hook – something that catches the audience’s attention and pulls them in, you should start your speech with one too. A quote, statistic, joke, or funny or otherwise engaging story is a great way to perk the attention of your listeners. Your speaker bio should introduce you and give some credentials, so don’t start your speech there. Instead, start with something of high interest to build rapport with your audience.

Step 4: Practice

Practice makes perfect. Practice and time your speech as you share it – in front of the mirror, to a small group (which could be your spouse and dog, if you want), or even into a voice recorder. We tend to remember the beginning and end of what we write, so practice from different starting points just to get the words into your head and memorized. Make sure your speech is falling into the allotted time frame you are given. Often new speakers will talk very quickly, so practice taking breaths and slowing down.

Step 5: Get into the right mindset

The right mindset may be reframing how you feel about public speaking, performing mantras or power poses, or giving yourself a pep talk. There are several ways to get ready to speak and you need to find the solutions that work best for you. This blog gives some specific suggestions for getting into the right mindset that have worked for me.

Step 6: Have a strong closing

Again, consider your audience and your purpose for being there and deliver a strong closing. For some people, this will be an impactful quote or final take-away thought. For others, it could be a call-to-action, such as asking them to come to the back at break and sign up for your newsletter, buy your book, or learn more about your newest program. When we are new or nervous, we will often forget to say this important piece and leave our audience feeling good, but with no way to connect further.

Step 7: Get feedback

The best way to learn and improve is to get feedback. Consider asking a few people ahead of time if they will watch for certain components and offer constructive criticism so you can implement improvements into your next speech. You can also video tape yourself to review later. We can be our own harshest critics, so I suggest viewing it with another person to help balance the feedback. You could also poll the audience to see if they received what they expected from the speech.

Is there anything you would add? What have you been doing, or not doing, from the list above? Need any guidance or support? If so, let’s schedule a free call to determine what needs you may have around writing your book, speaking about your book, or a plan to have them work together. I also have several connections I may be able to make for you and it all starts here: schedule now.

My Big Fat Opinion: You Must Create an Outline

create an outline image of lightbulb with ideas coming off it

Whenever I meet with a new client, whether they have anything written or not, I ask them for an outline. For many people, the thought of creating an outline brings them back to the horror of high school English class. They experience either the perfectionist desire to get it right or the rebelliousness to state they don’t do outlines.

There are several quotes that I think relate to why an outline is important. And yes, while some relate to goal setting, they are still relevant:

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll

“If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?” – Yogi Berra

“Knowing where you are going is the first step to getting there.” – Ken Blanchard

(all quotes taken from azquotes.com)

To me, writing a book (or even long content) without an outline is a surefire way to get lost, be less effective, and even possibly lose your reader. For writers who aren’t very experienced, an outline should be used for anything longer than a paragraph that takes the reader to a desired end point.

The Content of an Outline

For me, I don’t ask my clients to follow one specific form. Instead, I tell them to do what works best for them. After all, this isn’t English class – there is no exam, no grade to earn, no red ink. I want my clients to create an outline simply for the sake of:

  • Knowing the key points to make
  • Keeping us on track for content creation/writing
  • Inspiration when stuck about what to write, and
  • Knowing what we want the reader to walk away with

To accomplish this, the outline can look like:

  • Traditional structure such as an A, B, C; 1, 2, 3; a, b, c, etc. format
  • Mind mapping
  • A synopsis in paragraph or multi-paragraph form

For More Resources

An outline, in my opinion, is one of the first steps in writing your book. For more writing resources, check out my home page at www.skaowlpress.com.

There you can access:

  • Your FREE Essential Checklist for First Time Authors
  • Your FREE 30-page e-book titled, “How to Write a Book”, and
  • Your FREE course: “What to Write in Your Memoir”

As always, if I can help you further, Contact Me for a free 30-minute consultation.

What to Write in a Memoir (Part 2)

what not to write in a memoir
image of open photo album with graphic: what to write in a memoir part 2

 

In my last blog post, What to Write in a Memoir (Part 1), I touched on some of the mistakes memoir writers make, as well as what to include in your life story to make it compelling and valuable.

In this post, I am going to share what to EXCLUDE in a book about your life. After all, there is a lot at risk – your reputation, your relationships, and even your livelihood should you be sued.

What NOT to Write in Your Memoir

The most common mistakes I see in memoir include:

Assumptions

Telling stories about others that the writer may not have permission to share. There is a saying that there are three sides to every story: Person 1’s perspective, Person 2’s perspective, and the truth.

You can only speak for yourself. Don’t assume or read into other people’s thoughts, beliefs, emotions or motivations. Tell the story from your perspective and own it. Share your own feelings, and don’t assume you know what other’s feelings are.

Slander

Talking about people, places, or things in slanderous or inaccurate ways can get you into hot water. State facts and show examples rather than name calling or assuming information. Don’t be sloppy – do your research. Not telling the truth destroys your credibility.

The positive side of doing research and getting facts is that it builds rapport and credibility with your reader, and also helps them understand the setting or scene in a more compelling way. And, you won’t get hit with a slander lawsuit.

Overshare

Sometimes we feel compelled to share more information than we need to. Often this comes in the form of an “information dump” at the beginning of the story. This isn’t needed, nor appropriate. Good story tellers weave this information in and let it be discovered. Sometimes oversharing is a problem when information comes into the story when appropriate context hasn’t been built. Again, don’t be sloppy – build your story rather than dump information.

Oversharing can also include giving the reader too much detail or sharing information that is confusing or unnecessary for moving the story forward.

Undershare

On the flip side of oversharing is the opposite – not giving the reader enough background information or context. Sometimes this involves skipping over huge gaps of time without explanation, or being in a setting or scene that doesn’t make sense. Usually just a few sentences can fix this.

Another way this can show up in your writing is when you leave out how you feel or perceive a situation. Doing this assumes the reader thinks or feels the same way as you do, and that is not always the case. Connect the dots for the reader. Here are two examples to illustrate my point:

She walked into the room wearing red stilettos! I shook my head.

Did you shake your head in dismay or approval? Did you smirk or sigh at her boldness? Explain why you shook your head – there are too many things we can interpret here. Quick fix: …stilettos! I shook my head in disbelief that she’d show up so brass knowing the wrong she had done.

 

“Umm, boiled meat.”

Umm as in yum? Or umm as in disapproval? Share more about the beliefs behind this statement and what it means to you – don’t make assumptions that your reader know or believes the same as you. Quick fix: …meat. She snarled, curling up her vegetarian lips to me as though it was a bunny in the pot and not roast beef.

 

There are some unique techniques and “rules” specific to writing memoir. Knowing them and following the suggested actions makes the difference between a memoir that is compelling and well received, and a memoir that is bashed and trashed.

If you are considering writing a memoir, or a book with memoir components and feel you could use some help, schedule a free session with me to learn more about how I can help.

What to Write in a Memoir (Part 1)

what to write in a memoir

One of the most frequent questions I am asked in regarding to writing a memoir is what to include and what to exclude. I love getting this question, because often when I review a memoir manuscript where this wasn’t asked, I find some serious problems.

These problems include:

  • Telling stories about others that the writer may not have permission to share
  • Talking about people, places, or things in slanderous or inaccurate ways
  • Oversharing information that could cause more harm than good
  • Trying to tell too much that doesn’t move the story forward
  • Giving too much detail when it isn’t needed
  • Not giving enough information or background/context
  • Recounting information factually, rather than telling a compelling story
  • Leaving out feelings, or assuming the reader thinks and feels the same way the writer does

Why do any of these matter? Well, include the wrong thing and you open yourself up to a lot of potential pain: emotionally, if your friends or family are hurt by what you said; legally if you break confidentiality agreements or commit slander; and professionally, if you share something overly vulnerable. Bottom line, I have your backside and won’t let you expose your ass.

What To Write in Your Memoir

Remember than no one can write their entire life story. You likely don’t remember your birth and very early years, and while you can get that information from interviews, it isn’t always needed.

For example, I had one client who became blind during his birth due to an accident. This was critical for the story, so we shared it.

Another client was sharing about her adventures in her adult life, so writing about her birth had really no value. We briefly recapped some highlights of her childhood home life, but otherwise went right into her story.

Overall, consider what you want the reader to learn and walk away with.

 Include:

  • Stories that drive interest and help us understand the journey you are taking us on
  • Stories that show us certain traits or attributes about you as a person that come into play later in the book
  • Stories that introduce us to valuable characters and relevant settings
  • Stories that share your thoughts, feelings, beliefs

Your memoir isn’t just a chronological listing of events in your life. In fact, I often coach my clients to look to their outline for inspiration, but not follow a chronological path.

For most people, following themes makes more sense – but not always. It comes back to your end goal and what you want your audience to leave feeling and knowing after reading your book.

 

In the next blog, What to Write in a Memoir (Part 2), I will share about what to exclude or not talk about in your memoir, including examples of what I’ve seen in the past and why it is ineffective.

If you are considering writing a memoir, or a book with memoir components, and feel you could use some help, schedule a free session with me to learn more about how I can help.

34 Ways to Reuse Your Blog Content

reuse your blog

I really believe in re-using content you’ve already created and if you taken the time to write and post your blog, you should get the most bang out of your buck. With that in mind, anything on the list can also become a blog – recycle and reuse your content! Here are some ideas to reuse your blog!

34 ways to re-purpose and reuse your blog content

  1. Award applications
  2. Advertising copy
  3. Blog sharing sites (syndicates)
  4. Create a book
  5. Customer appreciation communication
  6. Customer review responses
  7. Drip campaigns
  8. e-book
  9. Freemium product (email capture download)
  10. Forms
  11. Guest blog
  12. Guest articles
  13. Handouts
  14. Infographic
  15. Letters
  16. Manuals / handbooks / policies
  17. Marketing Materials
  18. Media Pitch
  19. Magazines
  20. Newsletter Segment
  21. Online course
  22. Podcast Interview
  23. Proposals/ Quotes
  24. Radio Shows
  25. Research / compiling data
  26. Social Media Post Teaser text
  27. Speaking Engagements
  28. Speeches / presentations
  29. Trade Publications
  30. TV Shows
  31. Video
  32. Website Content
  33. Webinar
  34. Whitepapers

How to Blog in 5 steps:

  1. Write your blog (on your website or a blog site)
    1. Use best practices to get the most from search engines! (ask me how)
  2. Post a blog link in your social media platforms
  3. Consider another way to use your blog (as seen above)
  4. Do it
  5. Repeat

 

Need help with any of the above? I can help, either personally or through my network of contacts. I can help by doing it for you, or teaching you how. Let me know your goals and I can get you there. Contact me today for a free consultation on any writing project including editing, compiling, and reusing your blog.