Incorporating Speeches Into Your Planning
Plans are nothing; planning is everything.
—Dwight D. Eisenhower
Good leaders plan. Great leaders prepare.
You already know you need a speech. Probably a lot of them. Annual meetings, quarterly reports, town hall meetings, board meetings—all of these are in your calendar. You also have product rollouts, major change management projects and other assorted big events slated.
You will speak at all of these, as will other executives. Some aspects will be covered by methodical discussion of PowerPoint slides, but you still want a compelling introduction and conclusion that is professionally scripted. Other times, you will talk for 30 minutes, explaining the year-end results and goals for next year. You know this.
How Bad Does It Get?
Too often, internal speeches are a last minute affair: Scrambling to get relevant data, slapping together slides, and roughing out notes that ramble on too long. Late nights and ordered-in Chinese food feed what results in a mediocre presentation that weakly argues your case.
Imagine the scene: It is 3:00 p.m. two days before you hit the podium.
You are in your office, trying to figure out how to reduce your slides from 15 to 7, per the suggestion of some book you read about limiting slides. It all seems so important but you know you need to.
Your speech sounds dry. Should you include a joke to start it off? Or should you use a few vignettes to give some context and flavor to your talk? What about being self-effacing? Would that come across humble and human or would you sound weak and unable to decisively lead?
How should you end your speech? That close is the entire point. That’s the big sell, the call for change, the charging of the mission. Do you leave them with a simple call to action? Another joke?
Some of this is inevitable. Unless you are a professional speaker with a canned talk, you are bound to keep working out the kinks until the last moment. That’s OK, but the goal is to eliminate as much of that and the guess as much as possible.
- Print out your calendar.
- Highlight each important meeting.
- Consider your responsibilities within each and determine which require a speech.
- A month before, give me a call (630.890.9351) or drop me an email.
- If there are several, call me now and let’s figure out a plan.
- We will discuss themes, goals, and calls to action.
Any speechwriter will want to see all related documents, as well as correlated video and audio files from previous events. If none exist, even wedding toasts will help. Any white papers or articles written by you can help me learn your voice. Every speech will receive its own project plan, but always keeping everything as simple as possible.
When necessary, access to confidential information is important. Be assured that I’ll keep your secrets. Confidentiality agreements are part of the job. Knowing the full story helps me write fully, in the context of the truth—whether it is just a matter of industry secrets or something more textured.
By planning well and wisely preparing, you will be positioned to better engage your audience, with a stronger pull into your call to action. They will be inspired, ready to move forward with even the most difficult of situations ahead.
Plan well now and avoid stress later.