I remember once reading an article that described how famed Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams actually hated writing.
After months and months of delays as Adams failed to deliver the fourth installment of what would eventually become his “trilogy in five parts,” his editorial director Sonny Mehta locked him in a hotel suite with him and forced the manuscript out of him day by day.
Remember, this was Douglas Adams. His mislabeled “trilogy” would go on to sell 15 million copies before he passed in 2001. And yet, he wanted nothing to do with the tap-tap-tapping of his typewriter’s keyboard.
My point is that even the most celebrated authors among us can struggle with the blank page. All of us are vulnerable to writer’s block.
So if you have an upcoming speech and you haven’t written a word, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You may be a health or wellness expert of some sort and are meant to give a lunch and learn at a co-working space in the hopes of attracting clients.
Or you’re a management consultant for Fortune 500 companies and your boss is having you represent your team at an upcoming conference.
Or because of your expertise in a particularly specific aspect of the natural sciences you’ve started a company with several business partners and are meant to speak to a group of potential funders and now you need to talk about your ideas for 10 minutes and at what point can you please go back to your lab and work with your team on the work that makes you happiest for the love of God?
But regardless of your reason for giving a speech or a talk, you would likely love to wave a magic wand and just get this thing out of you and onto the page so you can pretty please move on with your life.
I do, however, have very good news.
People like Douglas Adams who made their careers from writing fiction were presented with the unenviable challenge of writing for the sake of entertaining others.
But as a speaker, while you may be very entertaining, your larger goal is to empower others to create meaningful change. The reason this is good news is that yours is a non-fiction world, and this means that there’s a particular reason why you’re blocked.
And this makes becoming unblocked totally possible.
The flaw in how most speakers go about crafting their speech is that they are focused on their goals when writing it. They make their creative decisions based on how the speech will help them to sell their book, or to attract clients, or even just so that they seem like they know what they’re talking about.
But people aren’t coming to hear you speak so they can buy a book, become a client, or decide if you know what you’re talking about. They’re coming because they want the meaningful change your expertise will help them to find.
The most effective communicators value the recipient over the sender. They make each decision based on what will serve their audience’s needs the most. And when they do that they not only show up in complete integrity, they actually get all of the outcomes they were seeking when fretting over their goals: book sales, clients, and even being perceived as someone of real authority.
What this means in terms of crafting a speech is that when we base our decisions on the audience’s needs the work becomes far more straightforward. We know that audiences are made of people. And people:
- Feel emotions. We can then open our speech in a way that appeals to those emotions.
- Have problems: We can speak to those problems early on in our speech.
- Are overwhelmed: We can therefore simplify our solution in a way that ensures that it feels possible for them.
The act of crafting the speech becomes pretty linear when we shift our perspective in this way. In fact, the more committed you are to serving your audience’s needs, the clearer you will be in what you need to do.
There’s no need to stare at a blank page when you have an expertise you wish to share from the stage. If you make every creative decision from a place of serving your audience then human nature pretty much makes all of those decisions for you.
Still, it will help to have a systematic way to foster that creativity. Click here to watch a free video on the key ingredient to ensuring that you tackle the blank page with a vengeance.