The Three Essentials

Great speeches are not written, they are re-written

Purpose – Story-line – Message

The Three Essentials of very speech are your purpose, your story-line, and your message. Those three requirements are the framework on which we add our dressing for delivery. If your goal is to deliver humor, the focus of the story-line should be to produce laughter. That laughter should extend and intensify as you close. Speakers should also count the number of times your audience responds with laughter. Your laugh-count should be in the neighborhood of twenty laughs, five chuckles, and one bellyful for humorous speeches. Your bellyful should keep your audience and judges laughing long after the minute of silence after you finish speaking. That minute of silence is just as crucial as your pause to set expectations before you utter your first spoken word.

These three essentials are even more crucial when you are delivering an International speech. Your message should resonate with your audience form the beginning of the presentation to the end. Your purpose and message should be synchronized and delivered with strategically place humor. Audiences and judges often reward International speeches presented with around five laughs, five chuckles, and one magic-moment. The magic-moment and your last words should linger, not for the minute of silence, but for a lifetime. When your presentation leaves your audience fidgeting in their seats as you retire to yours, you can rest assured you have achieved your purpose.

A compelling story-line brings your purpose and message to life. A compelling story-line brings your purpose and message to life. Your speech’s title should say to your audience, tell me more; however, the real doorway to your address is your opening. It should say tell me more but not too much more. Tell me just enough to make me want to take a journey of discovery and surprises with you. Finding your beginning may not appear right away. Editing will help you make that discovery. To quote one of the best coaches, who has produced many World Champions – “Great speeches are not written, they are re-written.”

Writing the middle and end of your speech is often the most difficult. How you resolve the conflicts and difficult situations you have put your characters into now becomes your challenge. Any unanswered question becomes a distraction. With editing, you can move things around until there is clarity in your story. As your approach the end of your speech, revisit your opening. Before you close that door, you opened at the beginning of your speech, ask yourself again -What is the lesson – What is my message – What do I want my audience to think, feel, or do as I take my seat? When your purpose and message are clear to you, only then will you deliver that presentation with confidence to your audience.

Mastering the three essentials takes a commitment to writing-out, editing, and re-editing your speeches. As you write, read your text out loud to see how it sounds. Your text is the score for the spoken words. Check for repeated sounds. Vary your voice as you develop your style. There is no one right style. Style is a matter of preference. As you write and develop different styles, think about how and when you will use each one. Whether your purpose is to deliver humorous speeches or life-changing messages, the twain shall always meet when your audience can identify and remember your speech’s three essentials, your purpose, your story-line, and your message.

Author: HenryOMiller

Henry joined Toastmasters in 1997. He is presently a member of 4 Toastmasters clubs; two in Santa Cruz and two in San Jose. He is a DTM-4. Henry is an executive speech coach, humorist, and speechwriter. He is also a musician and a lyricist​ whose speechwriting approach is similar to his approach to songwriting.

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