Organize Your Speech… Backwards?

When you have to write a speech, it pays to organize your writing backwards. Consider your goal first and write the conclusion, then the rest of the speech.

However you felt about your first speech, don’t wait to do your second.

You may feel like you bombed. You may have gone over time, under time, mumbled, wanted to vomit, couldn’t breathe, had the shakes… Stage fright.  But don’t wait.  Do your next speech as soon as you can get on the schedule.  If you wait, you’re more likely to work up a worse case of nerves for the next speech.

How to Organize Your Speechorganize your speech backwards

Start at the end.  What do you want the audience to do?

By starting at the end, you’ll prevent three critical problems:

  1. You’ll keep on track as you’re writing your speech.
  2. You’ll have a strong ending that can motivate your audience to act
  3. You’ll find your introduction practically writes itself.

To organize a speech, determine your topic and what format will inform your audience.  Stories are best chronologically, but material with lots of numbers may be better presented in related groups or categories.  You’ll develop the ability to determine if you’re going to do a comparison or a straight narrative with time and experience.    The key with this speech is less about the material, more about the methods of presenting it.  You don’t have to dive deep into the library or Google for material to organize – the more specific you are, the easier a speech is to write.  Consider your audience’s expertise and organize the material at their level.

Organize Your Speech to Speed Up Your Speech Writing

When you have lots of material to cover, having a plan will make your writing simpler and quicker.  Organize your material in only three categories.  If you have more than three, eliminate the excess.  A five to seven-minute speech doesn’t give you enough time to cover more material effectively.  Be very choosy and deliberate in the decision-making process.  It’s easier to add material if you’re short than it is to edit it out later.  That sounds backward, but it’s often true.  You’ll practice and practice, trying to cut the time down but all you’ll do is end up going too fast.

The Introduction Writes Itself

A well-organized, backward-written speech will probably inspire a good introduction.  You’ll want something that will give the listeners a good idea of your topic and your purpose, but you don’t want to be boring and tell them what you’re going to tell them.  Try for some mystery!  Try to whet their appetite with a good story or question before you begin the body of your speech.

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Breaking the Ice: The Ice Breaker Speech

The first speech you’ll give in Toastmasters in the Ice Breaker, a speech about yourself. What do you want us to know about you?

Whose Ice Are We Breaking?how to write an ice breaker speech

The first speech you give is the Ice Breaker, a speech about yourself.

Start in the Middle

What’s your story?  Don’t worry about the introduction or the conclusion until you know what you want to say in your ice breaker.  Once you determine the two or three things you want to focus on, then you can perhaps find a personal story that fits into the speech framework. By using a story, you can then write the end of your speech by wrapping up your story, and then write the beginning of your speech with the opening of the story.

Tell Us a Story in your Ice Breaker

What story do you want to tell us?  Is it a personal history?  Is it your career path?  Is it what brought you to Toastmasters?  We’re good with any of them.  By building and using a story, you can create an effective opening and closing to your speech.

Don’t forget your speech introduction for the meeting toastmaster.

This is a courtesy given to the meeting toastmaster.  The toastmaster is expected to give you an introduction that will prepare the audience for your speech.  You wouldn’t want a humorous introduction for an emotional presentation, would you?  The only way for a toastmaster to know how to introduce you is to have a written intro in hand.

The toastmaster needs to know how to say your name – especially if it’s difficult to say based on the spelling.  (We know who we are – our names are always mangled!)  You should also give the name of the manual and the project number with the project title.  This helps not only your evaluator (who will have your manual for the evaluation) but the rest of the club to know what you’re trying to accomplish.  I have a timing tear off on the bottom of my intro that I give to the timer, especially if the timing isn’t the standard 5-7 minutes.

speech introduction formUse this button to see the PDF versions of my Speech Introduction Forms.

 

 

 

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One More Thing: Check out Toastmasters.org so you can get access to the additional information and materials available on the website.

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Cool Blast Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Want to Improve Your Public Speaking? Consider Toastmasters.

Human usually learn to talk by the age of 3, so why do we also learn a fear of public speaking? If this describes you, then maybe Toastmasters is for you.

What Is Toastmasters?Toastmasters 101 Podcast Competent Communicator Public Speaking

Toastmasters is an international organization that teaches and supports public speaking and leadership skills.

Why is public speaking important?

At some point, whether it’s nurture or nature, people develop a fear of public speaking.  Why?

Do you want to develop public speaking and leadership skills?

Then what you’re looking for may be Toastmasters.

Toastmasters has developed a method to help you overcome those fears.  Over 90 years, Toastmasters has refined a method that can help you as quickly as you want to go.  You will get a manual called the Competent Communicator with 10 projects in it.  Each of those projects is a speech you will prepare and give at a club meeting, and then you will receive an evaluation of your presentation before the end of the meeting.

Surprisingly, one of the most effective ways to improve your speaking…

Public Speaking Leads to Leadership

Communication skills may be called the foundation of leading. If you want to be a leader, you must develop communication skills.

Since communication and leadership are so intertwined, Toastmasters provides leadership training.

If you’re ready to come and explore your future, you can find a local club by going to Toastmasters.org and clicking on the Find A Club button.  You’ll be welcome to join us.

Thanks for joining us on Toastmasters101.  We’ll be focusing on every project in the Competent Communicator manual in our future podcasts.  Instead of repeating what’s in the manual, we’ll focus on other insights into the projects.  Our next podcast – Breaking the Ice – the first speech!  Talk about myself?  What should I say? We’ll give you a few suggestions how to put that first speech together.

If you like our podcast, would you mind going to iTunes and giving us an evaluation (aka rating)?  We’d appreciate hearing from you as we talk public speaking and leadership.

Our music is from
Cool Blast Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
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