By KIRSTY STEEL
With spring here, I’ve started thinking a bit about gardening. First of all, don’t let me anywhere near your garden, I don’t have a good success rate with keeping plants alive.
In all seriousness, have you ever planted something in your garden and then couldn’t wait for it to grow? I know I certainly have. Last spring, I spent ages with mum in the garden making sure I had the right seeds, the soil was perfect and I had enough space for the root system to grow the perfect fruit tree. Two days later I wanted the tree to have grown already!
What I’ve come to realise is I’m quite impatient, but secondly growing a fruit tree is a bit like writing a speech or presentation… bear with me. There are many factors that go into making a speech and with the right tools it can be awesome, memorable or even life-changing for someone. But writing a speech is much like a tree growing. It takes time.
Here are some speech-writing do’s and don’ts that have helped me.
#1. Don’t expect that it will write itself.
Procrastination is a big time waster and never achieves a whole lot. It can be so tempting to go on Facebook or Snapchat, so set aside time to write. This may mean – shock horror! – switching off your phone. Watching the latest cat videos or memes can wait until after you’ve finished.
#2. Do break down your speech into sections.
Beginning, middle and end. Bullet point what you are going to put in each section and work from there. If you get stuck, brainstorming ideas can be really helpful. Everyone loves a good brainstorm!
#3. Do introduce something about yourself at the beginning of the speech
This could be a quick story or a fun fact about you. People love to connect with those who share about themselves. Why not start your speech with something engaging?
#4. Don’t write inappropriate humour into your speech.
I’ve seen this go horribly wrong for some people. Stick to what you are good at. If it’s telling jokes, then be selective about the humour that you use. However, not all speeches should have jokes in them – consider what is appropriate.
#5. Do write it down and don’t be afraid to use your notes as back up.
However, don’t read it off a piece of paper word for word. Making smaller cue cards to hold in your hand is often a good idea; it can prompt you to move onto the next point if you forget where you are up to.
#6. Do practice your speech.
Read it out loud, stand in front of a mirror and present to yourself. See if your mum, brother or the local postie will listen to it. Every bit of practice helps.
#7. Don’t worry if you make a mistake while speaking.
Just continue on. Chances are your audience won’t even notice you made a mistake.
Writing speeches is often such a challenge. You’ve got to come up with the idea, structure it, write it, learn it and present it. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the process. Much like seeds growing… all great things take time!
Kirsty is the Managing Director for Develop HQ, a Training and Development Company. She is passionate about youth communication, public speaking and leadership skills. She has presented and delivered workshops to over 80,000 people throughout New Zealand and Australia.
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