Thoughts on planning a speech, sermon, or talk.txt

Here are my basic notes on writing a speech, sermon, or talk. This applies mostly to the planning and brainstorming section, not the actual organization and presentation. I’ve found it a useful checklist to review for any important verbal presentation.

This is a work in progress, so I welcome additional comments.


*Remember, the end goal of communication is to maximize the audience’s understanding and retention, as well as launch them into practical application, not how much you say.*

*Comfort the afflicted; afflict the comforted.*

Consider the environment:
1.) Audience
a.) Age
b.) Knowledge
c.) Intelligence level
d.) Energy level
e.) Interest level (less interest means more repetition and more stories–need to generate emotional buy-in)
f.) Will they agree with my foundational assumptions?
2.) Length of talk
3.) Time of day
4.) Physical location

Consider the subject matter:
No matter whether personal choice or assigned topic you have the ability to customize it and emphasize different parts.
Decide general type of talk: Instructive (merely adding to knowledge) or changing pre-existing beliefs, inspirational, or other…

Have a single end goal sentence that describes the successful outcome: “The audience will…”

Decide whether Deductive (SEIA) or Inductive (IESA):

Decide different elements to maximize communication.

Trust (show audience why they should trust you, both intellectually and emotionally)
Emotional tug (lines from songs, stories designed to maximize emotion)
Intellectual tug (poems, and other wordplay, careful explained arguments, derail oppositional arguments)
Experiential tug (stories)
Relational tug
Both love and truth need to be appealed to.

Look for some common threads to flow throughout your entire message. Mention something about your intro in your conclusion–perhaps have both intro and conclusion come from songlines, or something similar. Give the audience lots of hooks to hang onto.
Look for smooth transitions to guide the audience’s minds… don’t force them to leap before they look (intellectually)

Ways to communicate:
Verbal: Tone-words-pauses
Visual: Hands-other body movements-graphics… create & use
Touch: Audience participation by incorporating volunteer or hand raising, or having the audience repeat a statement (or especially slowly repeat more and more of a longer statement)
Time: more time, higher emphasis–remember, the medium is the message.

Tangible steps:
1.) Decide topic
2.) Write out speech goal sentence
2.) Decide elements you really want to incorporate
3.) Build an outline by simultaneously creating forward flow and looking to incorporate specific elements
4.) Create a time outline (At major points decide what time you want it to be)–this will allow you to cut out portions of individual points, rather than hit the first points really hard, and then run out of time. This will also give a better picture of emphasis points, and give more control over the lecture to enhance extemporaneous presentation.
5.) Create/smooth transitions and flow–review emotional flow as well
6.) Smooth for repetition and common threads
7.) Review to verify everything flows from the goal sentence and reinforces it.

Things to beware of:
Purposeless stories for just a laugh (even the intro, while maximizing attention, should flow into the single goal statement)
Over exaggerating arguments
Ad Hominem arguments against the opposition (even if the truth is weak, stick to it, don’t try and over do your arguments, as it will lead to a lack of trust by your audience)
Don’t forget tangible application suggestions!
Appeal to both N’s (abstract theoretical framework thinkers) and S’s(concrete practical doers.)
Emphasize original source and point people there so you can use the trust they have in the source–for example quoting scripture verbatim as well as restating it in your own words.

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