Speech Editing – From Good to Great

Every word counts. Less is more.

20180930_094407.jpgEditing your speech can be both a painful and rewarding exercise. Careful editing can make your copy cleaner and your prose sharper. To get the best out of writing and rewriting your speeches, you must take your own work seriously. Seldom do you write or say exactly what you wish, on your first or second rewrite. It is my hope that you will find these tips as helpful as I have while editing. I too believe good speeches are written – great speeches are rewritten.

Avoid clichés that are common and overused. Aside from being indicative of lazy writing or speaking, they are rarely used correctly and even when they are, they rarely make sense. Who throws out “the baby with the bathwater” today”? Would you “cry over spilled milk” – “at the end of the day” and yes are you still “going the extra mile”. You may get a chuckle or two for some of these clichés, however, you may want to be more current. Those expressions are outdated.

Repetition not used intentionally for effect should be avoided. Check your copy carefully for how many times you have used your favorite words or phrases.  Increase your vocabulary. Go to your thesaurus to look for synonyms – words or phrases that by word association would be more pleasing to the ear. Learning how to make the best use out of synonyms and antonyms will prove to be extremely important for all kinds of purposes when writing and rewriting your speeches.

Modifiers like “very big” get old quickly. How about “gigantic”. Use a noun that does the work of an adjective. The most common problem with the use of modifiers is where you place them. Specifically, modifiers can cause confusion or unintentional humor in a sentence when they are placed too far from the noun they are modifying. Reducing your work count by replacing entire sentences with a single word or two works great. Also, seek out those two for one-word opportunities. Every word counts. Less is more.

Examine the beginning of each sentence. Varying the lengths of sentences can be very effective. When writing personal stories, try to limit the use of “I” over and over. Count the number of times you used “I” in your copy. Try shifting the focus from “I” to “you” with a question or a “you statement” focusing on your audience. Be more inclusive.

Have fun rewriting some of your old speech.  Rewriting makes your speech writing clearer, more powerful and can make your good speeches great.

Breaking the Ice

Icebreakers are not one and done

IMG_1980 (1)The first speech a new member of Toastmasters or any organization delivers is called the Ice Breaker. Ice Breakers give speakers the opportunity to begin speaking with confidence on familiar topics. It also provides them the chance to start developing their model for the preparation and delivery of future speeches.

Icebreakers provide a variety of choices. You may introduce yourself to your fellow club members. You may wish to speak about what brought you to the realization that you needed to improve your public speaking skills. You may choose a topic or cause you are passionate about.  However, the allotted time for an icebreaker is four to six minutes. A time limit that should be respected.

That set time limit has a specific purpose. It is designed to condition speakers to focus on a structure, economy of words as well as getting a feel for working with timers without having to concentrate on their devices. With time, you will begin to feel your green, yellow and red lights when you are on the platform. Therefore, discovering your speaking rate is very important. Calculate the number of words you speak by merely reading a passage is one standard method. For more information on that subject go to the resources page of  http://www.davidbrookstexas.com

For my icebreaker word count, I use the following manner:  (4 to 6 -1 =5)  5 times my wpm (words per minute) giving time for pauses and laughter.  My word count should be between 600 and 650 words. For speeches that are 5 – 7 minutes I use. (5 to 7 -1=6) 6 times my wpm which gives me a word count of about 750 to 780 words.

While there is no single recipe or formula for preparing a great speech, there are a few fundamental ingredients that can make your presentation memorable. Focus on your format. As you continue to become more comfortable with your structure for icebreakers, in particular, you will notice a natural tendency to approach your future speeches in the same manner as you do icebreakers. Icebreakers are not a one and done.  In time, they will be your default model for preparation and delivery of your speeches. The more you practice them, the better you will become as a speaker.

The following are a few additional tips for preparing icebreakers.

Where I was, where I am and where I’m going is one of those “hip pocket” icebreakers you can give at any time with very little preparation. If your scheduled speaker is absent, take the opportunity to practice. Keep an Icebreaker evaluation form handy at all times.

Make your opening remark a Foundational Statement. It is the foundation on which you will build the rest of your presentation.

Your greeting to the audience should follow the make a point, tell a story or tell a story to make a point format. For your Vignettes V1, V2, and V3. Remember, less is more. Use no more than three Vignettes. V1 -Transition -> V2 -> V3 -Time permitting.

Establish a phrase in V2 that will be the memorable phrase or statement of your speech. That statement is called your Magic Moment. Every speech must have one.

Signal to your audience you are closing on your V2 if you have only two Vignettes, If you have a V3 do it on the V3 – i.e., My Fellow Toastmasters.

Restate your foundational statement at the beginning of your closing and summarize your main point as you proceed with a call to action if appropriate.  Don’t thank your audience, your audience thank you for your presentation. Mr. or Madam TM is fine.

Stand and deliver is an excellent delivery approach for beginners. Move the material you prepared from your head to your heart and the hearts of your audience. Let your words dictate your body language. Build on the speaking skills you already have to establish your formula or receipt that you will use as you prepare and deliver your future speeches.

Visionary Communication

Make Your Good Better And Your Better Your Best

A Toastmasters Journey

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Public Speaking For All Occasions – From sun up to Sundown we communicate, some better than others. It is my hope that with this blog, we are able to raise an awareness to the importance of painting word pictures as we speak.  Over time, this type of communication will become a natural part of your everyday communication.  Come join me on a journey into the world of Visionary Communication.

Let us begin: A good place to start is by identifying your communication strengths as well as the areas you need to improve starting with your instrument – Your voice – have you discovered your tone of voice.  Your pace, your pitch and the importance of silence in your delivery. Silence sends the message.

Next, it is important to define your communication goals. What you want to achieve and how you will know when you have achieved it.  That’s when you move on to making each goal you have achieved permanent through practice.

  • Recognize the elements of a basic speech structure -Starting and ending strong.
  • Balance preparation and spontaneity in your delivery – Be natural – be you.
  • Demonstrate self-confidence – Make your speech a kind of silent conversation.
  • The ice-breaker worksheet is a good place to start – It is your roadmap to success.

ORGANIZE YOUR SPEECH

 The four elements of a good speech or story:

  • Interesting topic ( Your Anchor)
  • Opening – Strong -Direct-Positive
  • Body (V1 V2  V3 *V=Vignette)
  • Conclusion (Your Take Away Message)

Give your speech an opening, body, and conclusion to effectively communicate your overall purpose. When we communicate we must have a purpose. Also, we should begin to develop our own formula.  For Example, a formula for an ice-breaker could be – Where I was – Where I am – Where I am heading. The purpose is to begin revealing yourself to your fellow members.  You may want to share a little-known fact about your heritage or hobbies of yours.  Conclude with a funny or interesting anecdote that relates to your desire to become a better speaker.  Every Toastmaster’s journey begins with their first ice-breaker – a speech they will always remember even long after their journey has ended.