I love going to free public speaking seminars: if the material isn’t good, I usually walk away with at least a good story. At one such event a few years ago, the leader let me deliver a five minute speech. His feedback was that my introduction had needed more oomph – he told me that I only had six seconds to capture the audience’s attention. I told him that advice was nonsense as people seated will take at times a few minutes to warm up to. I know it’s important to have a good opening to your speech and that’s a topic in itself. But this isn’t about speeches, it’s about writing and that’s a different beast.
I participated in NaNoWriMo this past November. If you’re unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and is an event held each November for writers and those aspiring to be writers. If you have ever wanted to write a book and you just haven’t been able to get started, I highly recommend you give it a try. I first learned of NaNoWriMo while checking Twitter on Thanksgiving of 2011. At that point, it was a little late for me to participate so I made it goal to participate in 2012. I’m really glad I did because it was a great experience.
There’s a piece of advice that I’ve seen floating around the internet that claims that you can create a marketable book in three hours or less. While the claim doesn’t explicitly say that the quality of such a book would get it on the New York Times’ bestseller list, it implies that the book might actually sell. While yes, it is technically possible to create a book in three hours or less, I question the value of such a product and in the three hours spent creating it.
So how does one write a book in three hours? Well all you need to do is speak into a microphone for three hours. That microphone can be attached to a recording device (including a computer with a recording program) so that you can ship off a tape, CD or MP3 file to a transcription service that will provide you with the text of what you have spoken. Or you could use a speech recognition product such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking
(I did an internship at Dragon years ago) that will do the transcription for you.
I’ve met a number of writers in recent months that have asked me how hard it is to transition their writing to speeches. I was surprised because it’s almost like there’s this perception that being a good speaker and a good writer are mutually exclusive. They think of it like baseball – where good pitchers are rarely good hitters in the major leagues because they focus on one particular skill. So I explain that it’s the complete opposite – writers can make great speakers because the skills necessary to be successful in both endeavors are very similar.
The creative mind is our most powerful asset – I just wish it would cooperate more when I’m trying to come up with fresh material for speeches, articles and blog posts. So when my trusty mind is not cooperating, I look for inspiration elsewhere.
Here are my favorite sources for getting ideas for topics to speak (or write) about:
Visiting the various news service websites for stories that can inspire a speech:
Writing a speech can sometimes be as nerve-racking as giving the speech. Where do you begin? What format should you use? Will you need props?
The list of potential questions is endless, but getting started is a lot easier than you think. Assuming you’ve chosen your topic and done some preliminary research, you’re ready to sit down and write.
Now some folks prefer the free write approach. They simply start writing their speech out word for word and once they’ve gotten to the end, they simply make a few edits and they’re done. If that doesn’t work for you, then try creating an outline.