Throughout this journey I have gotten amazing support from my club, friends, and family. Those that are outside the club are usually quite interested that such a thing actually exists. One of the recurring questions is “what do you talk about?”.
There has never been a great speaker without a great speech. As we look back through time at great speeches by presidents, dignitaries, activists, and professionals we should realize that as amazing as their delivery and mastery of the topic was, they still had to have a great speech first. I use three basic principals when coming up with a speech
- Always talk about something I know about
- Always know your audience
- Always keep it simple
Always talk about something I know about
We have some amazing speakers at our club that have a wealth of knowledge on everything from freshwater marine life to financial planning to world travel. Unfortunately I don’t know ANYTHING about those topics and I would be crazy to even try to talk about them. I choose topics that not only interest me but are things that I have working knowledge and passion about. Obviously my family gives me lots of material, but I have also spoken about UGA football, golf, mortgages, and discrimination. Although I am not an expert on any of these topics, I have a working knowledge of them and in most cases a slightly different personal angle than anyone else. The beauty of talking about what you know is it makes it easier to prepare. Even though it make take a few weeks to craft a speech about how smart my five year old is, I can do it without having to visit the Library of Congress. If I were asked to give a technical speech about plant pathology I would need a immeasurable amount of time just to figure out exactly what plant pathology is.
Moral: Talk about things you not only know about but like
Always know your audience
This peace of the puzzle is often overlooked. An important variable in your choice and style of speech is the audience you deliver it to. You can deliver a message of peace and harmony one way to a church group but have to modify it completely to speak to at risk teens. Your wealth of knowledge can be overwhelming when starting to find topics. That knowledge base will help you narrow your scope down from everything in the world to just things that you know something about. The step of analyzing your audience will again narrow it down. You must consider the type of group, the time alloted, the space you will occupy, age, sex, religious background, and countless other variables to help you narrow your topic. Take the time to really think about the who you are speaking to in addition to the what you are speaking about.
Moral: Know your crowd
Always keep it simple
Once you have a working list of “stuff you know” and have narrowed it down further based on who is listening you can then really begin to craft what you are really going to talk about. The last piece of the puzzle is just as important as the first two. You have to be able to keep it simple. Newspapers and magazines have done this for years. The writing in most of these publications is quite simplified from the original thoughts of the writer. We live in a fast paced, microwaved society and it is so hard to ingest all the information that is thrown at us. Most of us have a hard enough time getting all of our family members to all of their appointments on time, let alone to process complex sentences crafted by our keynote speaker. Please don’t think I am asking you to write elementary speeches but at the same time you must realize that unless your audience are all PH D’s in the topic you are speaking, you should not have a PHD speech. As I have been told many times, “Don’t use a $.25 word when a $.05 one will do!”. To expand on that thought, don’t craft a 45 minute in depth break down of the physics of the sun when your audience has no need for all that detail. KISS my friends KISS (that’s keep it simple stupid).
Moral: Usually less is more