In three steps to a speech without a manuscript

In three steps to a speech without a manuscript

Many people would rather die than give a speech. And if they still do, then to feel safe, they more or less read it from a script. Obviously you can’t really get your people excited about this. With this article I want to help you by using my speech at TEDx. Based on these three simple tips, you will be able to hold your next speech without a script.

Surely you recognize this kind of situation: You may, or rather you have to, give a speech. Be it for a product, project or whatever. Since most people would rather die than give a speech, you may feel similarly. So you write down your speech in a precise manner, practice it and are well-prepared. Then comes the big moment, and the tension increases. Yes, you have your manuscript with you. So you start to read from the manuscript because you want to play it safe. With your last sentence, you are literally at the end, and you can’t wait to get out. Just saying that most speeches happen that way, based on my experiences.

With this article, I want to help you to perform better at your next speech and above all, to have more impact. This is not a rhetorical aid, enough has been written about rhetoric. I prefer to concentrate on these three tips, so you don’t need a script for your next speech. I share this using the basis of my lecture on the TEDx stage on May 24th, 2017.

Then let’s get started with the three tips for a script-free speech:

  1. Under no circumstances learn by heart.
    This is the main mistake that especially the ambitious make among us. Because with a blackout, your brain doesn’t know what you already said, or where you have to get back to in the speech. Instead, you should learn by analogy. Write down your speech first. Then divide your speech into blocks. Every block has an important message. Thus, you have now structured your text into the most important messages. Read your speech several times a day out loud, for at least three days.
  2. Memorize your speech really quickly by using pictures
    Your brain can save images a million times faster, easier and more durably than text. As I wrote in point one, that’s why learning by heart is so difficult. So let’s come up with a picture, graphic or at least with a succinct word per message. For my TEDx speech it looked like the image above. Don’t worry, nobody else really needs to understand it, except yourself, of course. Please note that the messages are drawn in a fluid order to make things easier for you. For me, there is a serpentine flow from left to right and back to left, etc. And of course from top to bottom.
  3. Easily anchor your speech in a quick way
    Now that you have written down your speech, divided it into blocks and messages, and written them down on a letter-size sheet with a map, I’m sure you could already hold your speech pretty well. Maybe you would forget some messages, but all in all you could recite your speech quite adequately. In order for you not to forget anything, and to bring all messages into the correct order, here’s tip number three: Make a copy of your map. Then cut out each message individually with a pair of scissors and number each piece on the back. Number 1 is the first message, the introduction, etc. Now you have all the messages that you want to present individually. Mix them all and draw one blindly. Now try to convey this message. In the beginning you will need your text script a few times, but that won’t last very long. Once you’ve done this a few times, you can take your letter-size map look at it for three minutes, and then start your speech. If you are unsure, you can look at your map. Do this for five consecutive days, and you’ll be able to present your speech without a script. Promised.

A final tip

The first 2-3 times you speak, I recommend that you take your map with you to your presentation. Place the map, if at all possible, in such a way that it’s not visible to the audience. You start off your speech without the map, but are protected in case you go blank. When I did that initially, I realized at the end that I never even looked at the map, so after this I left the map in my pocket.

By the way: The colors in my map hold important meaning. Maybe I’ll write a separate article about that later. They are related to the structure and effect of a speech.

A present for you

By sending a comment or message you will receive my TEDx speech (in English) as a PDF free of charge. You’re free to use the map with the text as your own template for your next speech.

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