How to Write an Outline for a Story-telling Speech
As you begin your dream journey to be a sought-after paid public speaker, you’ll soon find there are so many ideas you want to include in your speeches, that putting one together can be something of a nightmare.
Especially if you read the article I wrote, “The Anatomy of Writing a Great Speech for Public Speakers with Big Dreams“ where I compare your speech to a clothesline analogy and walk you through the three stories you should be telling in your programs.
Today, I’m working on a speech that needs to do all of the above.
My 17-step Speech Outline Blocks:
1. Tell them your story in a way that allows them to get to know you.
2. Get them to laugh a lot.
3. Tell a couple of touching heart-string stories.
4. Open and close with a bang.
5. Get everybody to agree on the problem we have: stress and burnout.
6. Show everybody how stress and exhaustion are affecting their lives and affecting their work.
7. Show them that the answer is shifting their perspective.
8. Give them the three ways they can move their attitude to come out on top of stress and change.
9. Create a Prides Hollow (the town where all of my stories take place) story (or stories) that beautifully illustrates what I’m speaking about.
10. Tell a personal story (or stories) that show a conflict you have similar to the audience, and how this Prides Hollow tale helps fix this problem.
11. Possibly reveal a story of your life (and their life) without this issue.
12. Find a way to use my nursing home story since you are speaking to a nursing home group.
13. Find a way to use your Granny Calling piece threaded throughout the entire speech–for something different, funnier, and a wow factor.
14. Use the story as much as you can to accomplish everything above.
15. Use as little text in the message portions of the speech to make it more powerful.
16. Make the audience feel important and validated, inspired and courageous.
17. Have a few surprises along the way, if possible.
Sometimes when I start a list of what I want my speech to include, I’ll write it in three columns:
1. The About Me Stuff;
2. The Content Stuff; and
3. The Customer Story Stuff.
But today I only got out a piece of paper and started writing the elements that I want to include in my speech.
I chose pink ink only because (and as you can see by the picture above) the sheet was covered in random elements drawn with a box around them. Separate these modules with a box around them. I don’t bother adding all the text. I just focus on what that element is.
Whoa! Chaos! Danger! Planning ADD!
Because at this point, all I want to know is that I have included every single thing I can think of at this point.
Yes, I have. Now comes the fun part.
Now I’m going to take a pair of scissors and cut out every box. Since I’m lazy, and I hate cutting, I will pay my son to do it. Then I’m going to spread it all out on the floor and start moving each piece around until it’s in the order I want it.
Cutting, spreading and organizing the blocks sounds like a lot of work, but it is crucial when you are overlapping many ideas and combining several stories at once.
Your process probably won’t be so complicated. But speech blocking still works. Sometimes I put the elements of my speeches on index cards and use those as blocks instead. (No cutting). I lay them out in the same way, on the floor, until I have them in the chronological order I want.
Plus side: You now have a visual of your entire speech. Even if you don’t memorize every word (like I do), you can still see your speech in blocks. Perhaps you can also create a diagram that you take up on stage with you–where each segment is a box. The layout allows you to remember where you’re going without using PowerPoint or documents that are twenty pages long.
Happy speech outlining!