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Structure your speech

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Five minutes too much? How about 30s?Edit

We all get intimidated by having to speak for 5-7 minutes. But do you think you can speak for 20-30 seconds on a topic?
If you think you can do that and you can think of 10-15 thirty-second topics, well then, you've got a 5-7 minute speech.

Once you've got a theme / topic for your speech, divide it as follows:
Some people say: Start with the Conclusion. That's the essence of your message, so start there.
However you do it, you'll need:

  • Title
  • Introduction
  • First point
  • Second Point
  • Third Point
  • Conclusion

Your 10 times 30s speeches Edit

Then further divide it like this: Title Introduction (30s to a minute long)

First point (90 seconds in total)

  • First sub-point (30 seconds)
  • Second sub-point (30 seconds)
  • Third sub-point (30 seconds)
  • Bridge to... (five seconds)

Second point (another minute or so)

  • First sub-point (20-30 more seconds)
  • Second sub-point (20-30 seconds)
  • Third sub-point (just another 20-30 seconds)
  • Bridge to... (five seconds)

Third point (last minute or so)

  • First sub-point (20-30s)
  • Second sub-point (20-30s)
  • Third sub-point (20-30s)
  • Bridge to... (five seconds)


Conclusion. (30s to 45s)

That's six minutes of speaking! That wasn't so hard, was it? Make sure the conclusion ties in with the introduction / title!

Use mind maps instead of linear notes Edit

How to use “Mind mapping” to prepare powerful speeches:

From the time we enter primary school, we’re taught to organize our thoughts in a ‘linear’ fashion – line by line, left to right, top to bottom on the page. You may have even learned how to prepare speeches that way – either writing them out word for word or writing outlines with the main points, then sub-points, then sub-sub points and so on.

But that is not how the mind works. When preparing a speech, we don’t think in terms of points and sub-points. We have snatches of ideas … a quotation here … a statistic there … an interesting article we read recently … a funny anecdote … a bar of music running through your head … the start of an idea for a powerful conclusion …

Mind Mapping is simply a technique for translating these mental ideas to paper. It will help you to:

Benefits of mind mapping Edit

Put your idea down on paper quickly. Construct a mess out of disorganized thoughts, ideas and fragments of material.   Remember your speech more clearly:   Reduce – and possibly even eliminate – the use of notes.  The basic idea is that instead of writing out your speech in words, you draw it in pictures. So a Mind map is a "picture" of your speech!

How to make a mind map Edit

Mind Mapping is a trademarked term by Tony Buzan. There are excellent resources on his web sites. There are also many software programs available for Mac and PC that use mind mapping.

Here is a quick overview of how to create a Mind Map:

  • Start with a blank piece of paper and a set of coloured pens
  • Draw your speech topic in the middle of the paper
  • Draw lines radiating out from it – one for the introduction, one for the conclusion, and one for each main point.
  • Annotate each line with a symbol, cartoon, stick figure or some other picture to identify a point. If you can’t think of a picture, label the line with a word.
  • If you have sub-points, draw other lines branching out from your main points and repeat the process.

Mind Map shorthand Edit

As you gain more experience with Mind Mapping, you’ll start developing your own internal shorthand for certain things. That’s fine – if it works for you, that’s all that matters! Here are a few symbols that you can use:

  • A telephone handset means a phone call
  • An envelope means e-mail
  • A face with an open mouth means you giving a speech
  • A cup of coffee means meeting with a friend
  • A spider web means the world wide web
  • A crystal ball means the future
  • A target with an arrow means a goal
  • An apple means teaching (“apple for the teacher”)
  • A group of heads means a meeting

There are no fixed rules for Mind Mapping, but you might find these guidelines useful:

Mind mapping tips Edit

  • Choose a good environment that stimulates your creativity and visual thinking.
  • Use pictures rather than words wherever possible

If you use words, use single words, not phrases or sentences

  • Use colour
  • Re-draw a Mind Map if it is getting too cluttered or ugly. I often draw two: one for simply “dumping” ideas and the second to arrange them in a sensible way.

Don’t get too bogged down with your Mind Maps. They don’t need to make sense to anybody else – they are there for YOU to organize your thoughts.

When you present your speech, take the Mind Map with you and use it in place of notes. Or try your speech without any notes at all – you’ll discover that it’s much easier to visualize a Mind Map than to memorise written notes.

Mind Mapping has more applications than just writing speeches. Use it for planning each week; summarizing books, taking notes at seminars etc. it’s a simple, powerful tool. Try it – it works!

Louise Howell President: 4th Dimension Toastmasters Club


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