The Hamburger Helper

Giving your best is more important than being the best

Can you write a five to seven-minute speech in ten minutes or less?  Yes, you can!  You can always shake the dust off one you have delivered before. Or, challenge yourself to prepare a new speech using one of these methods: The “Tell Them.” The “Table Topic,” or my favorite – The “Hamburger Helper Method,” where you build your speech like your favorite Burger. The topic you choose should be on you know as well as your name. That choice can cut your preparation time in half.

Believe it or not, we give speeches every day. Sometimes we start and don’t know when to stop. We call it having a conversation or just talking when speaking in private. However, we freeze when called upon to speak in public. Why! – Is it because we believe we must be perfect whenever we step on the platform?  While there is nothing wrong with seeking perfection, we should never forget that giving our best is more important than being the best. To excel is to do better than you did before. When what we practice becomes permanent, we will realize that there is very little difference between talking in private and speaking in public.

While we all will agree it is wise to stay seated and listen if you have nothing to say, it doesn’t do you any good to keep sitting and listening. There is nothing you will ever say that has not already been said. It’s your turn, so when given the opportunity, have your say with confidence. Many years ago, I was invited to a National Speakers Association meeting and was asked, what do you speak on? For a moment, I was stumped. It was the first time I had ever been asked that question. However, my big takeaway from that meeting was that you must find your passion and lend it your voice. Every speaker at that meeting spoke passionately about the topic that interested them the most as a public speaker. I also noticed the structure of their responses was similar, but their delivery was different.  

We all have used the tried, proven method used by presenters called the three “Tell Them” – You tell them what you will tell them, you tell them, then tell them what you told them. Another approach I sometimes use is the Table Topic method whenever I have less than ten minutes to prepare. In those situations, I think of a topic and a message related to that topic. To use the Table Topic approach, begin with a question and message of your choosing. Choose a topic you know well that would interest your audience. Devote two to three minutes to answering the question, then give a, for instance, to support your answer.  Deliver two to three minutes on your message – the meat of your presentation. And finally, you go back to the top; the question, just as you opened, to close. A great way to practice the Table Topic method is by ensuring you use your entire two to three minutes to respond whenever you are called upon at Table Topics.

Now let’s take a look at the “Hamburger Helper method. Take a moment to close your eyes and visualize your favorite Hamburger. Let’s undress that hamburger. Make the top half of the bun your topic, what you will Tell Them. Next, you add a transition to “Tell Them.” – the meat of the presentation. Remember that famous advertisement “Where’s the Beef.” Even if you are serving a Veggie Burger, you must have a patty. The patty is the meat of your presentation. And finally, you return to your opening to remind your audience what you told them. And before you do, add a bit more dressing as you close the bottom half of your bun. Noticed something? – All three methods are the same. But I like using the Hamburger Helper method as It also gives a visual of what my speech would look like before it is delivered.  

To get that visual, go to the internet and Google “Burgers and Pictures” – there, you will see several different burgers. Ask yourself which of those burgers looks like something you would enjoy yourself. Which one is the Burger you will be happy to serve to your audience? Did you add too much of anything?  Which of those burgers will represent you and your message accurately? When you can answer those questions, you now have a speech you can confidently share with different audiences. And each time you deliver that speech, it will always be a little different as you move it from your head to your heart. Sometimes you will receive feedback like; I heard that speech before, and that’s OK. What matters most is that you were not sitting and listening. You were on the platform speaking. And as you become more confident, add a little spice to your original delivery, and that newer version will be enjoyable to every new audience.  

Burgers come in different packaging. Your packaging makes all the difference. As you open your package to reveal what you would like your audience to know, think, feel or do, your facial expressions should entice your audience’s curiosity to see, taste, and even smell what you’re sharing with them.  What you are giving to your audience is a gift; always remember, it is in giving that we receive.  So, the next time you have to prepare a five to seven-minute speech in ten minutes or less, try the Hamburger Helper Method, and who knows, with help from your favorite Burger, you may someday become a Burger King or Queen. 

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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