Not a great speech writer? Neither was I. I had the passion, I had something to say, but to actually sit down and write a speech… forget it! The summer of 2001 was the most transformational time in my career.
I loved the performance, but the preparation and the writing process nearly killed me. In fact, when I was making my run for the World Championship of Public Speaking, and decided to get a speaking coach, I knew I was in trouble! The very first thing that my coach, Dave McIlhenny, asked me to do was to write out my speech. I can still hear myself whining, “But you don’t understand, I can’t be tied down by a script! I work best with bullet points. Blah, blah, blah.”
Dave wasn’t buying it. I wanted a coach, but for a moment was not coachable. I eventually put my tail between my legs and sat down at my Mac computer to write.
I mean nothing came through my finger tips. After a sincere effort, I called my coach and told him about my blank computer screen. He laughed and told me to try another “acceptable” approach.
He told me to go give the speech live, record it, and then go home and transcribe it. “I can do that!” I was so excited! I could be free and give it the way I wanted, and be “brilliant” in the moment with the connection to my audience. Woooo hooooo!
I got home, sat down, and started transcribing it. The speech was a bit wordy at first, but I focused on just getting the words down, and then I’d tidy it up later.
When I was finished, I read through my speech. I really said that? YUK! The more I read it, the worse it got! I hadn’t written out a speech word-for-word since my early days of stand-up comedy. It was ugly – yet extremely powerful. Though I could easily stand and deliver with energy, pauses, and passion, what I literally said was misguided.
The power of seeing my words on that computer screen changed me. I saw the potential I had, that would never be tapped, by simply “winging it” and just being “in the moment.” I needed to have the right words and say them concisely.
With the help of a good coach, I was able to create a much more concise and powerful speech. I’m still not a memorizer. Once I got the words right, I could familiarize myself with how it should be, and get much closer to perfect.
Do you want your writing to be dynamite? If you want to be a better speech writer, I challenge you to:
Tell it, and Transcribe it!
Sit back and read what you actually said. It will surprise you. Are you willing to accept my challenge?