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How to Develop & Deliver a New Speech (or Me & Michelle Obama)

It is a part of my work that I truly detest…  how to develop and deliver a new speech. It scares me, frankly, because it’s untested. But, I follow my own advice by deciding on a topic, putting it out there and seeing who bites.

Well, this time, I got bitten by an event expecting 19,000 attendees (you read that right) and which just announce Michelle Obama would be keynoting. This insures attendance that high, and probably higher.

Even though the event isn’t until later in September, I’ve begun preparing already. This is because 1) I need to crystallize my thoughts and 2) practice to work out the kinks and deliver it as flawlessly as possible.

Most speakers won’t do this work, which is, frankly, why most speakers fail.

So I thought I’d share my process with you to show you how it can be done. Below are the steps I have taken so far and what I will continue to take until speech day:

Click here to learn by video or reading…

 1.  Figure out a pithy title.  I looked at different media and speeches, took headlines from tabloids and magazines and plugged my own words into them and basically threw them onto a document. I realized what I do is help people get attention in a very noisy world. So my main title is ATTENTION! You see the double entendre? Then, I had to decide on a sexy subtitle. My original document contains 12 of these. I went with the one I think best goes to people’s pain: Re-igniting Focus in a World Drowning In Distraction. Yeah, I like it too. But I’m keeping the others for potential future use

2. Compose a program description. This is the title, short, descriptive paragraph and bullet points. The question I always ask myself is, “What will people take away and think about when I’m done?”

3. Send out the program description to venues looking for speakers. I have an alert set up that is “Call for Speakers.” I sent my program description to a few that came through and, voilå, one of them said yes!

4. Put together an outline. This is where I’m going to start gauging the rhythm, or how the speech moves along. Do I have enough facts vs. stories vs. audience engagement? Where’s the funny stuff?

Ok, I’m still in the outline stage, but here is what I’ll do from now on…

5. Complete the outline by the end of May. I’ll fill in the blanks and run it by some trusted advisors.

6. Start saying it out loud beginning in June. That gives me 3+ solid months to really dig in. I’ll do it a couple of times per week in June, 3x per week in July, and 4-5x per week in August. There will be some time off for vacation. I’ll likely bring in my speech coach who will be able to give me objective feedback and criticism about it all — material, rhythm, and delivery.

7. Put the finishing touches on in September. I’ll practice this speech every day. It should be well-learned by then, but I know new things will pop into my mind as the big day approaches. It won’t change in any big way, but I’m flexible.

By the time the event happens, I’ll be so ready and confident that it’s good, I’ll be excited instead of terrified, and terrified is what I am right now. :-0

And that’s how you develop and deliver a new speech. It’s not easy and it’s not quick. But it’s powerful as well as the fastest way to personal, corporate, brand, and sales success.

2 thoughts on “How to Develop & Deliver a New Speech (or Me & Michelle Obama)”

  1. Thanks for the great content. I’m working on my signature talk right now, so this is perfect timing. I love your advice about setting up a “call for speakers” alert.

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