“I felt like myself,†enthused a client who made a good showing when she presented at a candidate’s forum recently. “And I was described by the press as demonstrating leadership.â€

A cartoon of a woman standing on top of a podium.We had spent nearly a day in total time helping to develop and refine her three minute remarks. On her own, she had spent another two days practicing.

Not entirely gone was the nervousness that had plagued her earlier efforts to deliver talking points prepared by her campaign team, she admitted. But there was no question that this time, the candidate felt in control of her own destiny.

When it’s your turn to create and deliver an important set of remarks—no matter what your purpose—the preliminary steps you take are as critical to your success as the ultimate delivery and follow up.

Here’s what I recommend, what I call my Seven Speaking Savvy Steps in the following order:

  1. Give yourself time for unlimited, unedited brainstorming. Let it all hang out. Do not be too quick to decide what’s in and what’s out. Keep your audience’s desires and dreams in mind while you exercise your creativity.
  2. Group your content by topic. Include the pain points you’re helping others overcome as well as the benefits your ideas and experience will bring to your listeners.
  3. Begin to sort through and eliminate lesser points.
  4. Get a clear picture of how much time you really have to speak and continue to self-edit what can be presented and what will needA woman sitting at a table with papers and a laptop. to be left out.
  5. Write at least three or four drafts and count the words. A rule of thumb is about 125 words = one minute of talking, depending on your pace. It can be more or less.
  6. Eliminate what sounds awkward or unnatural coming out of your mouth. Cut extraneous words and ideas that may put you over the expected time limit
  7. Practice aloud, in pieces, out of order, until you’re ready to rock and roll!

Remember, you are speaking because someone believes you are an expert or otherwise knowledgeable on the topic at hand. And it’s true, isn’t it?

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