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How to Prepare for a Speech

Learn how to prepare a speech from media coach TJ Walker in this Howcast public speaking training video.


How should you prepare for a speech?

You have two main options. The first option is what most people do. They run around the office gathering more and more information, more details, more files, and asking collagues and associates, hey give me all of your slides from your presentation on this subject last week. Then they end up with this gigantic wheelbarrow full of information and they do a data dump. Awful, awful, awful.

Here's what you need to do to really prepare for a speech. You need to write down every big message point you really want your audience to know. Then you need to put them in priority. Then come up with the top five. You see, that's not a hand with ten or fifteen fingers. I mean literally just five ideas. That should be the focus of your speech.

Next, you need a story for each one of your message points. Then, if you're using PowerPoint, come up with an image - not a bullet point, but an image - for each slide.

Finally, you need a single sheet of paper that has an outline, and it lists your five points. It lists something to trigger your memory for your story. And it lists something that will remind you of what your slide is.

That is far and away the best way to prepare your presentation. Of course, you have to videotape your rehearsal so that you like your presentation.

Now, why did I say limit it to five? Well, I've been asking audiences all over the world for nearly thirty years. I say to them, think of the best speaker you've seen in the last year. Now, tell me every message point you remember from that speech, not their style, or their warmth, or their humor, but message points. In all the years I've asked that question nobody has ever remembered more than five ideas. That's the best you can do.

So, start by narrowing the focus, doing the other steps, and you'll be in great shape.

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