Sitting down to write a talk can seem pretty daunting! You want to be authentic, deep, inspiring, and totally connected to your audience. But at the same time you’re wondering how to sound intelligent, have command of the room, sound good, look good, and at a basic level, not embarrass yourself. But the whole notion of “writing a talk” at all is where the problem begins.
You have to start somewhere else.
First off, you need to understand that speaking doesn’t come out of writing. They are two very different modes of communication, and starting by writing doesn’t lead to a soul-based spoken presentation. Nor does worrying about how you look or sound. (And yes, we all do it!)
Here’s a different way to put together a presentation in a few simple steps.
Step One. Grab a stack of sticky notes and a pen, get somewhere quiet and sit with your eyes closed. Start to visualize your future audience. Who are they? What are their problems? What are their joys? What do they want to know?
Now, as you think about this future audience, love them. Love that they try to live good lives. Love that they care for their families. Love that they want to be better than they are today.
As you love them, listen for the one, overarching message that you are uniquely qualified to share with them. What one idea do you know extremely well that would help them?
Take a sticky note and write down that one idea. If you have more than one, write a different idea on each sticky note. But see if any of those ideas is a subset of another one. You really want to focus on one idea.
Once you’re happy with that one idea, stick on a wall or large mirror, or some other place with a lot of space available.
That one idea is going to be the main theme of your presentation – the one thing that a week after hearing you, a listener will remember. It might be something like, “Children blossom when they’re allowed to be creative.” Or, “Growing your own vegetables is healthy and brings the family together.” Maybe it’s “Learn to love yourself and your health will improve.” Clearly, the ideas are endless!
Step Two. With your main theme on the sticky note, listen for everything you know that has anything do to with your theme, whether it’s a story, a fact, an argument, a data point, a question, a group exercise, or a quote. Write each item on a separate sticky note. When you think you’re done, write 20 more.
Step Three. Put all those sticky notes on the wall or mirror and start arranging them in groups that make sense to you.
Think about the flow from the audience’s point of view. Make sure there’s good variety – not only in content types, but in the emotional flow of what you say. To keep your audience engaged, there should be some type of activity for them every six to seven minutes.
Step Four. Make sure there’s a call to action at least at the end, if not also in the middle. If you want them to sign up for a workshop, say it. If you want them to take community action, say that. If all you’re doing is giving them useful information, the call to action is for them to use that information. And make sure your main theme is stated throughout so they remember it.
But in all this, all you’re doing is writing short ideas on sticky notes. You’re NOT writing anything out word for word as text.
You want to be talking to your audience in your own speaking voice – not in your writing voice.
If all this still seems daunting, I can help!
On Saturday, February 1, 2014, I’m holding a “Create your talk today!” workshop. It’s virtual, via Google+ Hangout. Three times during the day I will get on Google Hangout with six workshop participants as we encourage each other in the talk creation process. For only $147 for the day, you will end up with a workable talk outline that you’ve run by six other people. You’ll also join a private Facebook group where you can continue the discussion with each other.
To be one of the six participants, sign up for the workshop by clicking here.
If you have any questions, please contact me.
I look forward to helping you get over the talk creation hurdle!