7 Strategies That Make Speechwriting Easier

April 15, 2015

shutterstock_148133702You’ve got a presentation coming up in two months. What do you do: Get cracking on writing that speech immediately, or put it off until closer to the date?

Most of us will choose the latter. You’ve got time after all. That is, until 2-months turns into a month. And that month turns into a week. It’s usually at this point that panic sets in.

What’s the reason behind so many people putting off preparation?

I posed a related question to my network: What's the hardest part of writing your speech?

The results of this informal poll revealed that the biggest block to writing a speech is (drumroll please)... Starting.

Apparently, it's more fun to scrub a toilet than to write your presentation. We've all sat down in front of the computer and wasted hours staring at the pulsating cursor while wondering, "What the heck should I talk about?"

Let's make it a whole lot easier to get your speech started! Use these 7 strategies to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Don't start writing your speech by sitting down at your computer

When you have a presentation to give, the first inclination is fire up your laptop, open PowerPoint and start typing away.

Step away from the computer. You're not ready to write one word of your presentation yet. You need to  first think about your audience -- who they are, their problems, and how you can help.

Having a strategy in place first makes it so much easier to write your speech.

2. Get clear on your big idea

The audience is only going to remember ONE idea -- yep, you read that right: ONE idea -- from your presentation.You need to be strategic.

Figure out what you want to be known for as a speaker. You can't be known for everything you're an expert in.

Your big idea serves as the beacon for crafting your speech. Every story you tell, every sentence you create, every breath you take (*cue* I'll be watching you), relates directly back to that big idea.

Having one big idea turns your audience into advocates by giving them a way to talk about your presentation long after your speech is over. Need help crafting that big idea? Grab the Presentation Sweet Spot and it will walk you through the process.

3. Give your audience exactly what they need

Speakers have a habit of starting presentations by answering the question, "What should I speak about?"

Instead, the question needs to be, "What does my audience need from me?" or "How can I serve my audience with this message?"

Speaking is NEVER about you. It's always about the audience. As I work with clients, I too often see that what my clients wants to say is not what the audience needs from them. They’ve got a laundry list of ideas, but no idea what the audience knows or needs to know about their topic when they walk into the room.

Give your people what they need, and you'll have them coming back for more of what you can offer them.

4. Plan your call-to-action

If you don't know where you're going, you'll never get there, and you'll leave your audience stranded on the side of the road. Before you start your speech answer this one-question:

What is one action that you would like the audience to take as a result of hearing you speak?

Hint: They’re not there to buy your stuff.

Before you can sell, you must provide the audience with something that solves a problem or impacts their lives in a meaningful way. You've got to earn your pitch.

5. Implement the one-minute rule of thumb

What's the one minute rule? For every one-minute you speak, you spend an hour preparing and practicing.

If your presentation is 15-minutes long, that's 15 hours. 60-minutes -- 60-hours. You get the point. Set aside enough time to prepare and practice your presentation.

6. Discover your best writing strategy

One of the biggest questions I get from my clients is, "What's the best way to write a speech? Should I write it word-for-word, outline it, or do something else?"

There's no best way to write a speech -- the best way is the one that works for you.

For me, I spend a lot of time thinking about my speech before I start storyboarding. Here are several different ways to write your presentation:


-Storyboard using Post-it Notes

-Outline your presentation

-Script it out

-Plan it out in your mind

-Create it in PowerPoint (but don't use it as your PowerPoint)

-Choose your own way

Experiment, play, and find out what works best for you.

7. Get help and ask for feedback

You're an expert! Awesome, right? But this means you're too close to your own ideas. You don't have the beginner's mindset. You don't understand what your audience doesn't know about your topic. You need an outside perspective.

Get help and ask for feedback! Don't ask your spouse, business best friends or anyone who knows the ins and outs of what you do and how you do it.

You truly need someone with a fresh pair of eyes for your talk. My best advice: Hire a coach to help you craft this content. My best speeches were developed when I had an expert helping me with the content. The insight about what was missing from my presentation (or what was overkill) was invaluable in making my presentation a success.

Don't get stuck writing your presentation! Follow these strategies and make it easy to write your next presentation.

READ MORE: 'Picture Your Audience Naked," And Other Terrible Speaking Tips to Ignore

Photo: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens