Level 1: Research and Organize Your Speech

Research and organize your speech Level 1 Project 3

Are you ready to research and organize your speech?  Good, because that’s the last project in Level 1.

Pathways provides you with a couple of PDFs to help you organize your material and your speech.  They outline 7 different types of speeches.  They explain that speeches have 3 distinct parts – the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.

How important is speech organization?

Making sure that your material is presented in a logical format is the difference between communication – and chaos.  That’s how important it is.

Just throwing all your information at your audience is not informative nor persuasive.  Your task as a speaker requires you to be proactive – to present your data and conclusions in a format that a listener can follow.  Your call to action will be obvious and motivating only if you organize your material first.

Pick your topic

Picking your topic for this speech is less comfortable than the previous speeches, when I recommended that you pick a topic you know and like.  This speech requires you to do some research, so you need a topic that you don’t know.  Inspiration comes from any number of places – newspapers, radio, a book you’re reading, a show you’re watching.  Research and organize your speech comes after you pick your topic, so don’t lock yourself down to specifics just yet.

Pick your sources, collect your information, and then sit down to make some decisions about how to organize everything.

3 Common Speech Organization Techniques

I think the three most common ways to organize your speech:

  • Categorical – Comparison and Contrast or Informational
  • Chronological – Storytelling or Problem/Solution
  • Persuasive – Inspirational or Sales

Each of these creates a stable structure for a speech.  Stories usually fall into the chronological pattern. Problem-solution is usually a chronological speech because you’re showing a cause to an action – the reason to do something.

Categorical breaks down the topic into sections.  Informational speeches often talk about the parts of a topic    Show the benefit of one thing by showing how it relates to another – comparison and contrast.

It’s my opinion that public speaking is performance art.  It’s not acting with someone else’s written lines as part of a play.  But it’s an art to lay out information and logical arguments to persuade someone.  Let me give you a recent example.  I was wasting time – I mean – doing media research on Facebook and this ad popped up about pillows.  This reinforces my suspicion that FB is listening to me all the time as my husband and I were just talking about replacing pillows… and here’s this ad.  What an ad!

Kim Buys a Pillow

It starts with the story of a school where the students are saved from a tornado by an alert teacher – all the children survived, but the school did not.  After the tornado, the students, especially the youngest pre-schoolers, were so stressed by the event that they couldn’t sleep.  As the media covered the story, a sleep researcher voluntarily sent pillows that were part of her work in solving insomnia.  The claim that the pillows were made of a particular substance that relaxed a particular part of the brain…  The story continued with how the pillows changed the students.  They could relax and sleep.  Vets with PTSD were suddenly sleeping soundly with this pillow.

I bought that pillow before I even got to the end of the video.  That’s persuasion!

But persuasion isn’t just about sales.  It motivates people to make personal changes in their lives.  It inspires people to achieve new and great things!

Which format should you use?

Don’t try to force a speech into a pattern that doesn’t work.  Going with the obvious allows you to concentrate your efforts on the other parts of your speech right now – vocal variety, body language, and gestures.  Think about the evaluations you’ve already been given – they’ll direct you to what you need to concentrate on.

But let me tell you the smart way to write a speech:  write it backward.

What’s the purpose of your speech?

In the end, it comes to – the end.  What do you want the audience to think, feel, or do after you sit down?

I’ve talked about this in the Competent Communicator episodes of Toastmasters 101, but let’s go over it again.

I find that the worst part of my speeches – the part that the evaluator will almost always comment on – is the end of the speech.  I don’t have a solid ending.  Now, you may think that you have to have a splendid intro and a strong body to craft the end – but I say it’s exactly the opposite.  When you’ve got a strong end to your speech, you’ve built the foundation to the body and introduction.

When you know what you want the audience reaction to be, you know how to end your speech.  You’ll create a call to action – the challenge to the audience to act.  Write that down first.  Be specific, be concise.  Make it absolutely clear what it is you want them to do.

When you know that, you can write the last paragraph of your speech – but don’t think you’re done with it yet.

The Body of Your Speech

Since a good 80% of your speech is the body, you need to organize your information in a clear, orderly manner.  As you do your research, you’ll combine facts and information into logical categories.  Or you’ll recognize the sequence that the speech needs to follow.  Maybe you’re going to try to be persuasive, so you’ve got to craft the speech to convince your audience to agree with you.  That’s the organizational part we were just talking about.

Should you write out your speech?  I do.  You don’t have to, but I think it’s a good exercise to help you craft what you want to say into how you say it.  Rhetoric is an art and you have a unique voice.  How you say something is not how I would say it.  That’s the way it should be!

Writing may be a difficult task for you.  Is it better for you to write on paper or on a computer?  That’s up to you.  But early in your Toastmasters career, I think – again – I think – that writing out speeches helps you more than you expect.  You’ll get the benefits of learning the techniques of putting things together slowly, then when you need to, you’ll be able to put a speech together faster, even on the fly.

Finish by Starting

If you have your ending, and your body, all that’s left is the introduction.  This will be easy to write because you’ve already got all your ideas in place – now all you have to do is create an introduction that will create curiosity for the audience to want to continue to listen to what you have to say.

There are lots of ways to build curiosity.  Have you thought about using a rhetorical question?

You might make a list of the things you’re going to talk about and see what inspires you.  But please, don’t fall into the “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them what you want to tell them, and tell them what you told them” trap.  It’s one of the worst ways to handle a speech.  Nobody likes this format. It’s borrrrrrring.

A lot of speech training courses are going to tell you to do that.  Don’t.  Resist the temptation and open the door to your creative side.  Jokes aren’t necessary, but humor is always nice.

Once you have the intro, go back and check what you’ve written and your conclusion.  Make them all fit together – use transitions that lead from one part to another.

That’s how to research and organize your speech.  If you want to listen to my previous podcast, you can find it at http://toastmasters101.net/cc3.

Don’t forget to give your evaluator your evaluation form.  You may need it to get approved to move on to Level 2.

How to Complete Your Level

After you complete this research and organize your speech project, go back to Base Camp and finish the post-test.  Then go back to Base Camp and you’ll see the option to Complete the Level 1 Completion task by hitting the Mark Complete button.

This sends a notification to your club’s Base Camp Managers that they need to approve the completion of the level.

Some BCM want to see the actual records – evaluation forms of your 4 speeches and the evaluation of your evaluation.  If you store your evaluations online – you can’t show them your records online at this time unless you save them as PDFs or image files and forward them via email or shared drive.  If you have printed evaluations, you may show them at a meeting.  Some VPEs want the agendas as well if you’ve given speeches at more than one club.  Ask your BCMs what they want.

Base Camp Manager Task

The Base Camp Manager has to sign in as a Base Camp Manager – not as a club member.  A screen will come up that shows the requests that they must approve.  They approve it and another screen comes up asking for comments.  Toastmasters International Pathways Guides training recommended that the BCM enter their name in there to keep track of who approved the level.  It’s optional, of course.  But if there’s a question, you’ll know who to contact.

Approving a member’s level is very simple.  The VPE, club president, or club secretary all have the access to approve the level – but you need to be sure that the club officers are getting the notice.  The correct email for the club must be entered into the Toastmasters International website.  Even then, there’s only one person who’s likely to get the email.

It’s very simple to just hit the button to submit your level completion test and send a separate email to the officers in the club.  It will probably be the quickest way for you to be able to move to Level 2.

Next week, we’ll start Level 2 with a pop quiz.