Writing speeches is always a challenge. First, I have to select a topic. Typically, I begin with a message. Then start putting my thoughts together for the speech, Usually I plenty of content, the problem is I only have 7 minutes to speak. Editing becomes so important in Toastmasters speeches.
I find that focusing on the message and finding a story to support the message is key. Stories help the speaker connect to the audience. Without that connection a speech is noise. I always think of Charlie Brown’s teacher…. Wa, Wa, Wa… Condensing into 7 minutes is always a challenge. I record what I want to say, listen to it, make corrections, start all over until I transcribe it. The process of word elimination takes the speech to the next level. So many speakers are in love with their words, but the audience never makes that connection. Written communication and spoken communication are vastly different.
Then begins the time to practice. I do what Patricia Fripp, a renowned presentation coach and the first woman president of the National Speakers Association, tells us to do…. I practice while exercising. I chose the elliptical rather than the treadmill because I prefer that piece of equipment. Fripp is 100% correct, it allows you to really internalize the script. Then record one more time and practice again.
Toastmasters has provided me the opportunity to give many, many speeches. When I first came back to speaking, I was afraid. My heart pounded, my ears pounded, and my hands shook. I was a college orator and debater, but it had been 30 years since college. I have practiced enough, that I can come up with a speech on the way to a meeting. Are those the best speeches? No, but they are practice. When recorded they become great lessons in learning how to do impromptu speaking.
Those speeches often allow me the ability to test a story or a message to see how they connect with the audience. Each and every speech gives us a chance to grow.
Now go practice and schedule your next 10 speeches. Challenge yourself to earn a Competent Communication Manual every year. You will be surprised how much you will grow in the process. Impromptu speaking is the best method to overcome fear of speaking – JUST DO IT. Lean into it a bit at a time, then go through it and DO IT. You will be amazed at the support you receive.