Step Away from the Pen and Start Speaking!

Too often, when invited to give a speech or presentation, the speaker will start by grabbing a pen and paper. They forget that what they are preparing will be heard, not read.

When preparing, the first step is to talk it through as though explaining it to a friend. Run it through a few times and play with different points. You will soon see a natural structure emerge. (At this point, you have not put anything in writing.)

Only then, take note cards and write one key point on each card. These are the bones of the speech. Still talking it through, try different introductions and conclusions. Focus on a structure with a clear beginning, middle, and end, logical transitions, and a strong close. 

Next, flesh out the key points, but keep it bullet-form on each notecard: no full sentences, no long-form writing.

If you keep talking it through and work only from the key points, you will avoid the temptation to read the “essay.”