Writing a speech at very short notice?

Have you just been asked to fill in for a speaker at the last minute, at very short notice?

Have you been putting off writing for months and you’ve just realised that the speech is on Saturday?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  My phone regularly rings on a Thursday with requests to help write (or re-write) a speech for that weekend.

If you are in that position, some of my usual tips for writing a great speech – like research and preparation – just aren’t realistic.

short notice nerves speech

So what should you do?

  1. Don’t panic!  If you think clearly and calmly, there is always time to get it right.
  2. Change your goals.  Shorten the length of time you plan to speak for and don’t try to create something that’s too unorthodox.
  3. Keep it simple.  Your subject may be complicated but your speech can’t be.
  4. Make two lists: ‘Must Says’ and ‘Could Says’.
  5. In the ‘Must Says’ scribble down the people you need to thank, the toast you need to make and the basic points you need to cover.
  6. In the ‘Could Says’ list the things that might bring the speech to life.
  7. Focus on a maximum of three points in the ‘Could Says’ list.  If, for example, you are a Best Man at a wedding, these could be the groom’s love of sport, spreadsheets and takeaways.
  8. Create a simple structure for the speech which sandwiches the ‘Could Says’ between the ‘Must Says’.  This will help break your speech up and mix the sincere and lighter elements.
  9. Ensure that your sentences are short and punchy.  Read them out loud to ensure that you can deliver them easily.
  10. Print them off in a large font and leave room on the page for lots of pauses and time to read each sentence before you deliver it.

Of course, the alternative is to call me for some last minute help!

Good luck.


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