YES, I KNOW IT’S TUESDAY AND I SAID I’D POST ON WEDNESDAY / FRIDAY.
Cause you should always start a post in all caps, eh? Or start in aggressive American all caps and then switch to stereotypical Canadian politeness, eh?
We talked about how to figure out your topic, but sometimes you want to speak off the cuff, very last minute, and you wonder how the hell I did that speech that one time when I stepped into a speech competition at the very last second and TOTALLY WON.
Yes, it really happened.
Also, I’m writing this in the local cafe and I’m going to need to talk about SOMETHING as an example, so I’m going to talk about this here PLACE.
That will totally make more sense as you read. I promise.
Let’s see what happens.
“Let’s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start.”
~Maria [Julia Andrews], The Sound of Music 1965
I call bullshit.
The easy place for me to start is the middle – the content, starting with the general topic.
And I’m gonna go ahead and lay this down right now – this is how I do it. I know there are other ways, perhaps better ways FOR YOU, but this is what works for me when I’m improvising, giving a first version speech at Toastmasters, or at the very first stages of developing a speech for stage.
So you have a topic (or two or three) and you split it into three points. If you can’t split your topic into three points, drop it and move to your second topic. You should have three points / subtitles / arguments for each topic. If you have too many, AWESOMENESS, pick the top three. If you have too few, it’s not your huckleberry.
To find three points to almost any topic, you might use two opposites and then an extreme of either like the good, the bad, and the ugly. Or two opposites and a compromise like the points of view of a conversative, a liberal, and a libertarian.
For example, I’m writing at the Haafs Bakerij today and if that’s my topic, then the three points are that this place has baked goods, coffee, and fresh squeezed orange juice, but they don’t have bathrooms nor wifi, but they have cake.
#AllTheCake #TheCakeIsNotALie #PRIORITIES
Make It Personal
Or do your research.
Even well researched topics need to be personalized, so you’re going to apply this step either way.
Each of your points needs to have a story behind it. Something to engage and interest your audience. Something to make it memorable.
Back to our cafe.
“I walked past this place for months because I thought it was Just A Bakery, but one day I noticed a couple of tables toward the front so I walked in. There was a menu! But it only had sandwiches. In the early morning, all I want is a croissant or something.
But I have a secret weapon. I’m an American. Living in the Netherlands.
And while it doesn’t matter where you live, if you’re a foreigner living in a foreign land, you can always fall back on, “My B – I didn’t know.”
So I embraced my Bumbling American personae and ask if I could eat one of their pastries. Warmed up in the oven. At the table. Oh, and also a latte macchiato. And did they have fresh squeezed orange juice?
OMG YES PLEASE.”
If I were giving this speech, then I’d go on to talk about how they don’t have wifi, but it’s all good cause I can make my phone a personal hotspot, but I didn’t figure out that they don’t have a public bathroom until I had drank an orange juice, two coffees, and a bottle of water, then ZOMG RUN TO THE HOUSE.
I’d talk about the cake.
The Introduction is The Ending
Let me just say this now – I’m not good at introductions. Or endings.
I was in a speech competition years ago and this was my biggest weakness – the point that I was still perfecting all the way up to the Nationals. You can use a quote. A joke. A gesture. A story. Anything, really, to grab the audience’s attention.
But the key is that the introduction and the ending need to relate.
Think of your speech as a circle. Start in one place, go on a journey and END UP WHERE YOU STARTED.
Perhaps it’s that you start the speech with a knock knock joke that ends one way and then it ends in a another way for the ending. WITH THE AUDIENCE INTERACTION OF COURSE.
Or that you start with a quote at the beginning and then reference it SIMILARLY at the end. Sometimes it works, sometimes NOT.
“When you know the notes to sing
You can sing most anything”
~Maria [Julia Andrews], The Sound of Music 1965
But, damn if that isn’t just spot on.
Now that you have a few notes in your songbook, I look forward to hearing you sing.
But sometimes it’s as simple as saying what you’re going to say, saying it, and saying what you said.
- Find a topic.
- Split it into three points.
- Make it personal.
- Make your speech a circle.
So the cafe speech introduction might be:
“How many of you have been to Haren?
How many of you visited the Haafs Bakkerij?
While I have lived in Haren for WELL OVER A YEAR, I’m just now exploring places to write in the mornings – let me tempt you to come visit me with an incredible slice of cake.”
And then the ending is:
“Now how many of you are going to come visit me in Haren? I’ll see you at Haafs Bakkerij. Just remember to bring your own personal hotspot and we won’t drink THAT much coffee.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this method – does it resonate? Does it sound like something you’d like to try?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
So we can sing together.