A couple weeks ago, when I spoke at the ASJA conference in NYC (American Society of Journalists and Authors), an attendee asked if I could provide a quick checklist to streamline both speechwriting and public speaking. I can, and here it is:
1. Focus the content. You can’t put everything in a single presentation.
2. Analyze the audience. Don’t write one word or prepare one PowerPoint slide until you understand your audience.
3. Research the topic with this specific audience in mind.
4. Organize your material so it’s easy to follow.
5. Write everything so it’s easy to understand. Rewrite. Cut. Then rewrite and cut again. Whether you’re word-smithing a full manuscript speech, or writing simple bullet notes, or crafting a PowerPoint presentation, make your language easy for the audience to understand.
6. Give your speech some style. Try anecdotes, examples, startling statistics, quotations, stories. Use rhetorical questions to engage the group.
7. Consider using a light touch of humor. [The key word is “light”. Go for smiles, not guffaws.]
8. Allow enough time for rehearsals.
9. Consider the options for media attention. Include Tweet-worthy lines. Get photos for better social media interest.
If you follow this 9-step process, you’ll have a speech that interests the audience, serves your organization, and builds your own career.
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