“OUCH!” Winning Speech, One Box at a Time
Too many people, when putting a presentation together, try to write the whole thing out. If you use slide presentations, you know the crutch of creating a slideshow by taking an old one, and just “tweaking” it. Guilty? I know I am.
A brilliant presentation is clean, clear and concise. It’s built from scratch (even if you’re ‘reusing’ pieces of another one). To have a masterpiece, each piece must be mastered. Focus on each piece. One at a time.
I’ve published this before, but I now have even more clarity on its practical application because of a new program I’m working on. You may have seen this before, but it’s time for both of us to revisit it.
Put each piece of your script into a “box” using Microsoft Word. This will help you not only focus on each piece, but it also ensures you make the transitions between each piece clear and concise. Look how cleanly this was done for my winning speech (below).
It does take a good deal of work, but it’s worth it. When you shortcut the process, you shortcut the result.
By Darren LaCroix
|Can you remember a moment when a brilliant idea flashed into your head?… it was perfect for you,… then all of a sudden from the depths of your brain another thought forced its way through the enthusiasm until finally it shouted, “YEAH great idea, but what if you… (fall on your face?” What do you do when you fall on your face? Do you try to jump right up & hope no one noticed? Are you more concerned with what other people will think, than what you can learn from this? Mr. Contest Chair, friends, and people way in the back!. OUCH!|
Do you feel I stayed down to long? Have YOU ever… stayed down… too long?
|After 4 years of business school I went for the American dream I bought.. a subway sandwich shop… you’re all impressed I can tell… I don’t want to brag but I took a $60,000 debt and in six short months…. I doubled that debt… I turned my subway sandwich shop into a non-profit organization.
I financially… fell on my face… but I realized I was not the only person from my home town of Auburn to fall on his face… 100 years ago my first hero, Dr. Robert Goddard had a ridiculous idea of building a device that could take off from the earth and reach the stars!! His failures were the reason we landed on the moon.
I remember my ridiculous idea.
|I was listening to a tape of Brian Tracy, a great speaker. He asked the question… “What would you dare to dream if you knew you wouldn’t fail?” I struggled for an answer….. then… BING!! I would be a comedian! But you have to understand my background… I was not funny, I was not a class clown, in fact the first time my brother ever laughed at me, was when I told him I was going to be a comedian. (…) Ouch!|
Who do you want to be? What changes would you like to make in your life?…
|So many of us can see clearly where we want to go… and yet we go back and forth,… If I just had more time… If I just had a little more money… or If the kids were little older. But we never take… that first step… Dr. Goddard’s first flight took off in Auburn… and landed… in Auburn. It only went up 41 feet… the first step can be small.|
Strangers will mock your first step…
|When the press found out about his short flight in an effort to reach the moon. The headline read: Moon rocket misses target by 238,799 and a 1/2 miles… OUCH!! It’s part of the process…|
We also have friends and family that love us and don’t want to see us fall.
|Imagine my parents’ reaction after stretching their budget to help through college. Seeing me fall on my face and then I came home (hands in pocket) “mom… dad… I want to be a comedian…” I was met by silence… (mouth OUCH)|
Its part of the process…
|After a year of trying comedy I remember a night… I’d been bombing for 20 minutes. So I went for my sure fire bit I brought a woman up from the audience…. she stood directly behind me and put her arms forward in place of mine and I would tell the story verbally as she told it in gestures. It always works best the more animated the hands are. Well this woman stood there like an ancient statue… I turned to her in desperation… please do something with your hands…. she did… she…. (cover mouth) OuuuuuuuCH! I called my mentor Rick. I bombed!… they hated me!… Rick said… “SO??” …. “What do you mean so?” Rick said, “Darren, every comedian, every speaker, anyone who has accomplished anything, has fallen on their face.”|
Then… I remembered SUBWAY….
|I fell on my face, but I never took the next step. The step AFTER the Ouch! is the most difficult. Take it. It will be hard, you’ll be unsure, but when that foot lands… oh you’re going like that feeling………..|
We learn from the ouch.
|Dr. Goddard always referred to failure as valuable negative information. Information essential for each step… towards landing on the moon.
He was an…. Ouchmaster. We need to be Ouchmasters.
If you are willing to fail you can learn anything.
|I still have my day job,.. but it’s because I took the step after the ouch… now my picture hangs in a comedy club in my home town. I was not given the gift of making people laugh. I was given the opportunity to take a next step… so were you… What is your next step? Take it! I didn’t want to look back on my life and say. “ I never did try stand-up, but instead I PAID ALL MY BILLS!”
We will find our feet get stuck… and we are so afraid of the Ouch we forget when we take a risk…. & fall on our face. We still… make… progress… Fall Forward.
Winning Speech, August 25th, 2001 Anaheim, CA
Study the speech and see my dissect it, moment-by-moment in online Program: Chump to Champ!
Check it out: https://www.
2001 World Champion of Public Speaking
Very nice. Well worth resending and reading or rereading. Emphais on transitions great.
Two fall forward thoughts: Boxes didn’s show up as well on the blog I received as they do here. – maybe my screen settings.
NSA Video stops a lot – discouraging one from watching – again maybe just on my computer.
Thanks for the great advice and for providng so much to students of public speaking.
Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis) Minnesota
PS: In case someone finds value in my latest S.O.L (secret of life) I want positive encouragement all day long and find it by counting moments that I savor. I started with portions, bites, and sips of food and drink. I use the lap counter on my watch. One lap +s 10 moments. I’m at 68 laps right now. (Better than counting successes, cause success and satisfaction are two different animals.
What an inventive approach–I can’t wait to give it a try!
Seems ideally suited to a speech written in “chunks”, to borrow a word from stand-up comedy. I’m not familiar with boxes in Word but hope it’s easy to turn them on and off. There’s a risk for me to focus too much on the trees and lose sight of the forest. The model I’m thinking of is layers in Photoshop–easy to toggle back and forth between details and big picture as well as being able to deal with complex relationships among the pieces. I don’t know if anything close to that is possible in Word or other wordprocessing software.
Nonetheless, I need to crawl before I walk. I’ll give it a try and report back.
I think what Darren is referring to is a feature under the “” menu. There are actually two ways that I’m familiar with (Mac menu): 1) Type your text, then insert an “autoshape” around the desired areas. 2) Organize your speech in “text boxes” – these can be moved around the document, like you would an illustration, just drag-and-drop. This latter technique can be useful for those used to working with cards to organize their speech, as the “text boxes” can be moved around like cue cards.
Hope that this is helpful, and thanks Darren for pointing out such a simple, yet effective means of organization.
Great timing – I’m preparing a presentation ‘It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint: 4 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader in the Long Run’ for one of the education sessions at the District 31 Fall Conference and am using the technique Darren describes. In previous speeches, I’ve tended to work up a rough outline, start writing and then edit after that.
Using the box technique is harder initially, because it forces you to be really clear about the structure, transitions and content of your speech before you start writing, but it is much more effective than trying to edit a fully formed speech later on. And don’t worry about the technicalities of this method – pencil and paper are just as good as Word – at least while you are getting your ideas down on paper.