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Introduction

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Below are the articles in the Best-Speech-of-Your-Life series. Deliver a wedding speech, a job pitch, or a keynote people will never forget. If you’re deep into speechcraft, these articles are for you. If not, read the book.

Book cover for "Create a Better Presentation Quickly" by Matt Dever with stick figure speaker looking at audience saying, "Are you not entertained?"

Below are the articles in the Best-Speech-of-Your-Life series. Deliver a wedding speech, a job pitch, or a keynote people will never forget. If you’re deep into speechcraft, these articles are for you. If not, read the book.

Best Speech Articles

Click the links below for each article. The text after the link is a brief description of what you’ll learn.

First Draft – just write, audience identification, writing habit

Second Draft – purpose, theme, structure, editing

Upgrades – engaging intro, ask questions, memorable, storytelling, humor, powerful conclusion

Evolve – example of a speech changing over time

Get Feedback – finding a mentor, mindset, process

Act – eye contact, movement, gestures, vocal variety

Practice – record audio/video, empty room rehearsal, schedule

Perform * – variables, nerves, adapting, flow

* Articles without links will be posted later once available.

Top Five Techniques

Don’t want to read the whole series now? Short on time before that next big presentation? Start with these five techniques to maximize the effectiveness of your speech right now in the minimum time.

  1. Answer ‘why are you speaking?’
    • What’s the purpose of your speech? If I have to listen to you, you owe it to me to answer that question clearly and concisely.
  2. Tell a story
    • Not logic, not facts, not science, give me a good story even if its about you learning logic, facts, or science. Use Vonnegut or Vogler.
  3. Write two drafts
    • You don’t have to follow the instructions from my first draft and second draft. You should write down what you plan to say. Then write it one more time after completing the next two suggestions. That’s how to get 80% of the benefits of developing a great speech in 20% of the time.
  4. Cut what’s good, not great
    • Read your speech. Scan any slides. Ask yourself: “What’s good, not great?” Cut the good and the great stands out. I call this ‘cut your babies’ because it’s easier to remember. Read how to edit your speech if you want to go deeper.
  5. Get feedback
    • Before you deliver your speech to many people, you owe it to yourself and your audience to learn the opinion of one person, one time. You don’t need to use all these feedback tips, particularly repeating the process. Just do it once.

Bonus Tip – Because Top Six doesn’t have the same ring to it and this is the one you’re least likely to do and may make the biggest impact.

  • Record audio
    • You will memorize your speech quickly. You will change what sounds awful. You will upgrade your speech like a pro. Here’s my example.

Resources

This list contains the best book, articles, or other materials I’ve found for learning to become a better public speaker. Not all are directly about speech, but when applied they will grow your skills in producing memorable messages.

Books

  • Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
  • The Creative Habit by Twyla Twarp
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • The Writer’s Journey: Mythical Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
  • Contagious by Jonah Berger
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport
  • Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday
  • Draft No. 4 by John McPhee

Articles

Videos

Tools