Prepare lecture and speech in 10 steps: Skilfully formulate the manuscript

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Lectures, speeches and greetings are a mixture of oral and written communication. Although many advisers recommend to perform freely, let's face it: only true professionals will succeed in speaking freely and convincingly for longer. And they, as a rule, also need a punctiform manuscript like a frame.

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Here writes for you:


Professor Dr. Martin-Niels Däfler Best of HR –®Prof. Dr. Martin-Niels Däfler teaches at the University of Economics and Management (FOM) in Frankfurt am Main.


From the author:




The content matters

Let me start with three general comments:

  1. Write and talk only about topics you know. At every speech the audience has a high expectation - you have to tell your listeners something they do not know yet. A lack of knowledge automatically leads to a loss of authority; At the latest in the questionnaire, non-experts will be revealed. Always focus on where you are well-versed.
  2. Watch what you say. Which contents could be misunderstood? On which topics should the audience react sensitively? Which contents are (very) controversially discussed? You should avoid sensitive topics or those that are ambiguous or misunderstood.
  3. Be personal. A good speaker not only speaks to the cause, but judges, comments, recommends and reports from his life. Through subjectivity a speech becomes human. So you have the courage to express your own theses and if necessary to provoke (a little) the audience.

Step 1: Answer the policy questions.

  • First, be clear about some basic things - the following questions will help you:
  • What is the speech?
  • Which people (groups) are in the audience?
  • What are the attitudes, experiences and prior knowledge of the audience?
  • How many listeners are expected?
  • How can I give them a benefit?
  • Which lectures or speeches are there before, which afterwards?
  • How long is the speaking time?
  • Which speech goal do I have?

Step 2: Formulate the central message

A good speech can be summed up in a sentence that simultaneously reflects the central message or motto. At least your audience should remember it. Here are three examples from well-known speeches:

  • Winston Churchill: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."
  • Martin Luther King: "I have a dream!"
  • Roman Herzog: “A jerk must go through Germany!”

You do not necessarily have to use the central message verbatim in your speech - but you should write down that one sentence and make it visible on your monitor or elsewhere. Thus, when formulating the speech, you always have an eye on what you are aiming for.

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Step 3: Formulate a gripping entry

The approach to speech fulfills various functions. He should first arouse the attention of the audience. Then he is to prepare the main part in content - but actually only write it out, because a more detailed introduction to the topic follows later with the introduction (see step 5). Finally, the introduction is intended to weigh the listeners against the content of the speech and the speaker. So place a high value on the start, because the first impression is decisive.

Here are some ways to start a speech: Anecdotes, own experiences and insights, constellation or horoscope (also Chinese horoscope), fables, fairy tales, legends or myths, world records, unusual statistics, popular errors or historical events.

Step 4: Write a short greeting

In case you are wondering: Yes, I actually recommend starting first without a greeting (with step 3) and only then following the official greeting. This way you get a high level of attention. I call this the “James Bond Effect” because in the 007 films, the viewer is immediately drawn into the storyline, and the opening credits only appear after a few minutes. What is the opening credits in the cinema is the title of the lecture.

Even if it is difficult for you: If possible, do not greet more than three people by name, otherwise you will dig a “name grave” right at the start and lose your attention again. Rather mention other names in the course of the speech. Always check the correct pronunciation of names beforehand and make sure that you know the exact title or function.

Step 5: Formulate a short introduction

We have learned that a good speech depends on the content. But at least as important is: A gripping entry that captivates the audience from the beginning! How to do that, I show here.

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Perhaps the most important point here: Now name the topic of your speech, but do not anticipate your opinion. It is best if you formulate the topic - or the core thesis - as a question.

Step 6: Write the main part of your speech

Now it goes to the main part. Start with the weakest argument to not shoot your powder directly, and conclude with the best and strongest argument. Overall, you should only bring more than five arguments in exceptional cases, because here is the rule of thumb: No more arguments than you can count on one hand. And finally, the arguments you give must always justify them.

Repeat important statements. Because: Information is only really internalized if it is constantly repeated. One also speaks of the “suggestive power of redundancy”. Anyone who repeats his message with similar formulations, each with new examples, will have the best effect on his audience. Also, do not be afraid to consciously say that you are repeating yourself.

Step 7: Formulate a fulminant conclusion

Do not delay the conclusion for too long and do not announce the end of your speech in the sense of: "Before I come to the end of my speech, I would like to ..." Do not say "Thank you for your attention" in general, but end Your speech best with your motto.

Here are three ways you can finish your speech elegantly and in a way that will hang in the listeners:

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  • Make a reference to the beginning
  • draw a conclusion or
  • design a view, wish or vision.

Step 8: Spice up your speech

Content and entry are important in a speech, as well as formulating key messages. However, it should also be conclusive - so that the message also gets stuck with the audience. Spice it up a bit.

By “seasoning” it is meant that you revise your raw text so that your speech becomes entertaining and “easily digestible”. Here are some concrete recommendations: Nothing makes a speech as interesting as its brevity.

Therefore, you make your speech "spicy" if you practice doing without. So think about which words, sentences and sections you can delete without having to sacrifice (essential) content.

Pay attention to the time form

Speeches are written in the present - and, of course, kept. Pay attention to short main phrases. You should definitely rewrite phrases that are longer than eight words. Equally taboo are subordinate clauses - they have lost nothing in a speech.

Delete all subject and foreign words. If this is not possible, explain it - without the teacher's finger - when using it for the first time.

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Bring examples

"Let me make my statements based on an example: One of our customers has our product XY last year ..." Tell stories. This is one of the most effective ways to delight listeners and make content understandable.

Because stories help unite the bare facts Sense to rent. The more emotional the story, the better, because the facts will be kept the better. (“In 1867, Jan Winkman made a terrible discovery…”)

Step 9: Create a redemancript

Now it is time to review all statements, figures and sources. The same applies above all to the named names, offices and functions. Also reassure yourself about the meaning and pronunciation of foreign words and proper names.

Prepare your speech manuscript and, if possible, give it to an expert for review. Use a large font size and a large line spacing for the speech manuscript. In addition, number the pages and staple the sheets together so that there is no “accident”.

Step 10: Prepare yourself for a discussion

Also deal with the question: "What arguments could critics or opponents put forward?" So anticipate possible objections and think of answers to them.

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  1. Jens M.

    Time is getting tighter and better in today's hectic daily work routine and good preparation often falls by the wayside. Too bad.

  2. Dirk Eickmeier

    RT @SimoneJanson: The Career Leadership: Prepare a speech in 10 steps (part 1) #Presentation

  3. Holger Froese

    The Career Guide License: Prepare a Speech in 10 Steps (Part 1) #Business

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