Starting with the end in mind

by Steve Counsell

Writing your speech can be a daunting process! Where to start?

Of course the obvious answer is to start at the beginning or even the title. This is what I used to do before I joined Toastmasters (Brighton and Hove Speakers Club). Since then I’ve come a long way with speech writing and now, would you believe, start with the end in mind.

Some people may call it “The big finish” after all most people will remember your closing lines and pretty much judge the whole speech on that so you’ll see the end is really important. I’ve come to learn that writing a speech almost backwards is an excellent way to leave your audience wanting more.

Learning how to perform well in Public Speaking is not just about the writing though, it’s about your delivery and the connection with your audience. A well written speech delivered poorly or that does not connect in some way with your audience will always be seen as a bad speech.

A good way to help connect with the audience is to make things very clear and one way is to:

Tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you just told them.

It sounds crazy I know but it really does work. In fact I’m using a bit of that technique in this blog post. I started with what I was talking about (Where to start writing a speech) then I’ve gone on to talk about some of the techniques I use and now I’ve just recapped on what I was talking about.

In my last speech about censorship I started writing the speech with the closing question. “Do you need a governing body to tell you what you can or can’t watch or are you sensible enough to decide for yourself?”

This drove the rest of the speech where I cited examples of changing opinions and the social taboos that change over time.

I encourage you to think about the ending of your speech throughout the process of writing.

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