Plan Your Motivational Speech Before You Write Your Motivational Speech

I can still hear Mrs. Peterson say, “Now class, get out a piece of paper and write me five hundred words on what you did over your summer vacation. Ready, set, go.”  And I would stare at that blank piece of paper with no idea of what to write, and I would start to sweat. And I would pick up my pencil and start to write, hoping that the pencil would just come up with the words for me – using every word I could think of to take up more space on that paper. I had one goal: To finish. That’s when my handwriting got really large and I started describing the dog as “very, very, very” big. It’s no wonder so many people hate to write. They were never taught how. They were never shown that something as simple as planning your story out first, would make the task so much easier, and even (gasp) fun.

And let me say right now, that writing a story is not much different than writing a motivational speech. I consider a speech to be one long beautiful story – where you just take the story one step further (or come out of the story if you will) by explaining to the audience how this can help them – giving them a message and some points on how they can take your message and apply it to their lives. I see a speech as a series of stories woven together to form one longer story – where each piece has a purpose for the audience.

Never Write A Story Until You Know Where It’s Going to Go

Sounds like an easy rule, but I was an adult (having written for years) and was still writing stories by having a tiny idea and then pulling out a piece of paper and hoping the pen would do the rest. I would start stories with no idea of where they were going to end up – which explains why so many never really ended up anywhere except the trash, and why it always took me ten pages to say what I could and should have said in one. Once I started planning my story, the process became a lot easier, and my stories became more powerful.

Planning your story/motivational speech has the following benefits:

  • You are more focused on the message and purpose.
  • You know what’s necessary to the story, and what’s not.
  • It’s easier to start because you know where it’s going.
  • You can write the best parts of your story first and then link them together
  • Your story isn’t clouded with unnecessary information.
  • You can make your story funnier by writing the jokes first.
  • It’s easier to memorize because you’ve mapped it out in pieces.
  • It’s easier to edit because you see it in pieces rather than one fluid piece.
  • You don’t have to think about what you’re going to say, you just write.
  • You can see if your points are clear and explained well.
  • Writing your story/speech in blocks helps you cut when necessary.

So let’s talk about how to plan your story. This book is not designed to help you write your novel. It’s designed to help you write a short tight story that you can tell from the platform, or on paper.  However, you can write a novel by breaking it down into short stories and piecing them together. But for now, we’ll just focus on the short story.

But there is no way I can make my story short – there’s just too much there.

Then take a moment – a snapshot – a scene. And tell that story. I used to make all my stories too big and it was harder for me to write them and tell them. Then I decided I would just write about one snapshot – make it short and sweet. And if I wanted to piece them together I could.  For example, maybe you want to write the story of your grandmother’s life and how she helped make you who you are today. You knew your grandmother your whole life and there is a lot you want to say about her and her life and where she grew up, etc.  I would recommend that you find one moment (go for the most powerful moment that sticks out in your mind) that really stands out in your mind when you think of your grandmother. Maybe it was something she said – or something she did at a time when you really needed her – or the sight of her making biscuits on Sunday mornings. Pretend that you have an imaginary scrapbook highlighting the story of your grandmother – almost like a movie trailer. Pick one of those moments. Write that story.

So you’ve got the story nugget, as I like to call it  – that beginning idea that you know would make a good story.

  • What makes this story interesting?
  • What is the overall message of this story?
  • Who are you talking to?
  • What can somebody learn from this story?
  • What is absolutely necessary to tell this story? (If this reader doesn’t need to know it, don’t include it.)

If you are a motivational speaker writing a speech, then you start by writing the points you want to make – why are you here, what do you want to tell them, how do you want them to feel, what is your overall lesson and the three (or however many points you will make) ways they can do this too.

A simple outline of your story will help you tremendously. You can even walk around for a few days thinking about the story and that outline. Then when you sit down to write, you know how to start, and hopefully how to finish.

Then just write the thing. Worry about making it better later. The first step is for writing the bare bones of what you want to say.  Good luck and happy writing! I have lots more articles on story openings, closings, details, humor, etc. But for now – just plan it.

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