1. If you have an important presentation coming up, the task of writing a speech may seem daunting. But, if done correctly, the writing part is actually the easiest. Once you are able to quickly write an effective speech, then you can then spend the rest of your time practicing and polishing it. Even if you only have 24 hours of prep time, you will look and feel cool and professional. Better yet, you may not need to use notes!

    Most likely, you have been called upon to speak because you have information that the audience needs to learn. The following structure is the best way to build a speech for maximum retention.

    Know the formula

    A good speech is much like a good meal. If you follow the recipe, the end results are stellar. Luckily, the recipe for your speech is simple. This basic recipe is used by nearly every professional trainer and speaker alive. It is a formula that is tried and true and only has three ingredients:

    1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them (the appetizer)
    2. Tell them what you said you’d tell them (the main course)
    3. Tell them what you told them (the dessert)

    Now that you know what the whole meal will look like, set a timer for five minutes and begin:

    Minute 1 – Get to the point

    Use your first minute to answer the two most important questions: What is my point? Why do they care? Answer these two questions, and you have the mission statement for your speech. It doesn’t matter if your presentation is supposed to be six minutes or six hours, your mission statement should be one sentence. Period. It might even be the title of your speech.

    Minute 2 – Start at the end

    For this minute, you will start with the dessert, or your conclusion. What do you want them to come away with? What do you want them to remember? Make sure it is no more than three points and supports the mission statement. Write this down.

    Minute 3&4 – Flesh out the middle

    Now that you have your three main points, you have everything you need for your main course. Under each point, write five to seven things that are important about it. Now, cross out all but the three most important. Move on to the next point and do the same. Once done, the body of your speech will contain all the meat and no filler.

    Minute 5 – Finish with the start

    Now you will write an appealing introduction. Much like its food equivalent, your introduction should whet the audience’s appetite so that they want more. You already know what you are going to tell them; now get them excited about hearing it. Your introduction should include that mission statement you started with as well as something about you that is both interesting and relevant. Under most circumstances, you will give the person who introduces you all of your credentials, so don’t repeat that. Say something that informs your audience why they want to hear it from you, specifically. Make it brief, about one sentence. If you can include some humor, you’re golden.

    Put it all together

    That’s it! You have all you need for cohesive, informative speech. If you have more time, you may go back and write out the entire thing – but you don’t have to. As long as you know what you want to say and the order you want to say it, you will easily be able to remember it and not have to read it – which makes you a much more effective speaker.

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