How Do You Determine What to Keep in Your Speech?
Have you ever written a speech, and then struggled to determine what material to keep, and what to remove?
It’s a common issue when writing new presentations. Learning how to effectively edit can mean the difference between a forgettable, or memorable talk.
Three Steps to Edit Your Speech
There are three editing steps that will transform your presentation. It can become an experience that impacts people long after you talk.
In my role as the Storytelling MD speaking coach, I show clients how to perform “surgery” on their speeches. Many are on “life support,” overloaded with information. These talks are a threat to audiences well-being. They are at risk of either falling into a coma or walking away from the presentation with their heads spinning.
All kidding aside, a big challenge for speakers is ‘cutting out the excess.’
Because you become emotionally involved with your own material. When you invest your time, your blood, sweat and tears into a talk, it’s difficult to listen critical feedback. I don’t like to hear people say, “Hey this part isn’t working, this isn’t effective.” Or, “I don’t get this point.” Or, “This story doesn’t support your main idea.”
That hurts! This is your baby, and people are telling you it’s not good enough.
This is part of the process — learning how to take out a scalpel and cut out the excess. Being able to step back from your emotions and remove parts that are ineffective. But, it’s necessary if your audience is going to get your best effort.
Valuable Advice From a Champion
Some of the most valuable speaking wisdom I’ve received came from David Brooks. He’s the 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking. David has an extreme suggestion that, at first glance seems impossible. Your initial reaction may be, “There’s no way I could do that!”
David suggests that after you’ve written your first draft, go speak. Test it.
Then cut out 50%.
That sounds like a lot.
Yet, I’ve done this. It forces you to look at each aspect of your speech. You determine where you can speak more concisely. Experiment and decide where you can combine one or two sentences — or even paragraphs. This makes the speech leaner, and more impactful.
Make no mistake, this is difficult to do with your own speech. For my presentations, I ask my mentors and coaches. I’m too close to my material.
But, it’s worth the effort.
Three Key Tips to Creating a Lean Speech
As you prepare your next speech, remember these three tips:
#1 – Every time you speak, record yourself. Nothing beats listening to or watching yourself. To repeat an old sports adage, the recording doesn’t lie. Get feedback, then watch the video. You’ll see what the audience is seeing and hearing.
#2 – As my mentor Darren Lacroix says, “Crave feedback.” Find an audience to listen to your speech, and then get their interpretation of it. Patricia Fripp, the great speaker and speech coach offers this insight:
“It’s not what you say, it’s what the AUDIENCE HEARS!”
We may have a specific intention for every part of our talk, or the words we put together. The audience may not interpret your points the way you intend.
You’re never going to know until you get feedback. Do this and you’ll gain a different perspective on your message.
#3 – Edit ruthlessly. Take out that scalpel and remove unnecessary parts. Remember, it’s not about you — it’s about the audience. If there are parts of your talk that aren’t working, that aren’t connecting, or don’t make sense, they have to go.
The purpose of your speech should be to change the way people think, feel or act, and give them hope. If any part isn’t doing that, take it out. It can be a painful process, but, the benefit is worth the effort.
And your audience will be thankful long after you leave the platform.
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