Plan Your Speech

Have you been chosen to give a speech?

Now what?

Choose a topic.

You get to choose what your speech is about. But if the speech is for a specific occasion, choose a related topic.

For instance, if you are speaking at your brother's wedding, you wouldn't talk about the challenges of potty training. At least I hope you wouldn't.

Make the topic appropriate to the audience and the event.

Set the tone.

In our wedding example, you would keep the tone positive and light.

But if you are speaking on a serious issue, go for a serious tone. And don't confuse that with a lecture.

A serious tone lets the audience the importance of what you are talking about without feeling like they are in class.

You set the tone of your speech in a number of ways.

Use a powerful story or statistic.
Relate a funny incident.
Ask a question.

Do a little research.

When congratulating your brother on his nuptials, you don't want to ramble or bore the audience. So do some digging around, first.

Jot down funny stories about your brother when he was small. What positive things can you say about the relationship between the new couple? Maybe there's a funny story or two there, as well.

Maybe she saved your brother from a life as the local cat man, and you are thankful since you are allergic.

Gather all of your notes. Set them aside for a few days to let new ideas bubble up. When you pick up your notes again, you should have a clear idea of what you want to say.

Start putting your ideas in a logical order that the audience can follow. This is your outline.

It might look something like this:

Funny story about growing up with my brother.

Main Point 1
He's a great guy
Helped me out with school.
Took care of family and friends.

wedding toast

Main Point 2
He deserves someone special
Someone loving.
Someone giving.

Main Point 3
He got her.
How I met her. How she made his life better.

My brother won't be the local eccentric with all the cats.
Instead, he'll have a family of his own.
Which is good. I'm allergic to cats.

If you are an experienced public speaker, this might be all you need. Just transfer it to notecards and practice for a few days.

However, if you are speaking for the first time, feel free to write the speech out word for word as you plan to give it. Practice it with friends. In front of your bathroom mirror. At your local Toastmasters meeting.

Your brother will be glad you did.

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