I will listen to about 25-30 speeches in a given evening, and one thing I’ve consistently noticed is that poor speeches have two things in common: they are disorganized and they go on for way too long.
From what I can tell, it sounds as though the student writes out a finished product from the very beginning. As a result, there’s a tendency for the topic to meander along with no real plan. A speech will start on the variety of shoes available to customers and move into the importance of walking and finish with an urge toward buying a good pair of socks. In addition, since there is no real plan, there’s no real way to know what the point is, or when we’re ever going to get there.
Clearly, this places a premium on editing.
Editing Means Adding More Crap, Right?
So, you have before you a speech with no real direction and you’re told that you need to edit it. The problem with that directive is that most people assume that you need to add more. So, you take a bad speech and you make it worse by making it longer. That is not a recipe for a great speech.
Find the Problem and Purpose
Before writing out a speech, take a moment to determine a problem and a purpose.
For an informative speech, think about what needs audiences might have. In other words, what’s missing in their lives? What could you show them that would help to make their lives better?
For a persuasive speech, think about what people are doing, thinking, or believing (or not doing, not thinking, or not believing). What should they be doing, thinking, or believing instead? What’s it going to take to convince them to change?
With that, let’s look at a very simple method of organizing your speech for maximum effectiveness.
Try the OABD Method
Outline – Make a broad outline that includes the topic (i.e. the problem) and the purpose. List the main points or arguments of discussion.
Add – Under each main point or argument, add your support. This will include assertions (claims), explanation, and examples. Bring in some numbers (i.e. statistics), and some quotes from qualified individuals.
Back-up – For every claim (every fact and figure), find a credible source that backs it up. Note it right next to each statement making the claim or revealing the numbers.
Delete – Now that you have everything arranged, take out anything that is not dedicated to addressing the topic/problem or furthers the purpose of the speech.
This method will allow you to piece together a speech that includes only ideas dedicated toward fulfilling the purpose of your speech. Anything else is a waste of your time and the audience’s time.
By outlining, you have a simple framework that allows you to see where you want to go. Adding things gives you a chance to put all of your ideas and research onto paper. Backing up what you say with sources gives you the credibility needed in a speech. Deleting then helps you to keep it short and powerful. Less is more in this case. Edit for effectiveness.