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Introduction

Do you want to know my top five writing and speaking tips? Do you want a step-by-step guide to improving your presentations? Read Matt’s book Create a Better Presentation Quickly.

Below are the articles in the How to Create 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. These articles are part of an in-depth series on How to Create the Best-Speech-of-Your-Life. If you want quicker speech upgrades, read the book.

First Draft – just write, audience identification, writing habit

Second Draft – purpose, theme, structure, editing

Edit – cut from one page to one paragraph to one sentence

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.

Speechcraft Videos

These videos will cover topics in the articles above and the book. Most are five to twenty-minutes long. Videos contain multiple topics. Watch a five-minute chunk if you’re time-constrained to pick up one way to upgrade your presentation.

Learn how to quickly communicate using sticky notes or how to edit down with progressive cuts. I gave this seven-minute education to a group at SAP to help them upgrade their presentation skills. Do you want people to listen closely to what you have to say? Then clarify your writing and speaking, please.

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
  • Words That Work by Dr. Frank Luntz

Articles

  • Write Simply
    • Use ordinary words and simple sentences.
    • Make your ideas leap into people’s heads.
    • Create less friction to absorb and deeply engage with your ideas.
    • Write your first draft fast, then edit, edit, edit for days.
    • Learning from another Graham article: write like you’re speaking to an audience – meaning don’t waste their time. Cut what’s not necessary.
  • Doing a TED Talk: The Full Story
  • World Championship Speeches – detailed analysis
  • Good leadership is about communicating why
  • Six techniques of clear and compelling speech
  • Distill your message to fifteen words
    • Your audience: Who are they? How do they view the world or the situation? What do they already know about you and your topic? What will they benefit from listening to you talk?
    • Your purpose: Why are you speaking to them? What do you want them to know? Why is it important? What are you trying to get them to do?
    • Fifteen words: As a result of my [talk], they will understand [this], and respond by [doing that].
  • One sentence that will make you more effective
    • Similar to fifteen words article
    • What’s the one sentence that explains your big idea?
  • 12 Life Lessons From Mathematician and Philosopher Gian-Carlo Rota
    • What can you learn from a mathematician about speaking? If he’s a master lecturer from MIT like Rota, the first four lessons in this article.
    • Every lecture should make only one point
    • Never run over time
    • Relate to your audience
    • Give people something to take home
  • Ten Rules from Words That Work – “It’s not what you say. It’s what people hear…and see.”
    1. Simplicity: use small words
    2. Brevity: use short sentences
    3. Credibility is as important as philosohphy
    4. Consistency matters
    5. Novelty: offer something new
      • You want to hear them think “Wow, I never thought about it that way.”
    6. Sound and texture matter
      • “A string of words that have the same first letter, the same sound, the same syllabic cadence is more memorable than a random collection of sounds.”
    7. Speak aspirationally
      • “Message need to be what people want to hear…”
    8. Visualize
      • Imagine using the word “imagine” more
    9. Ask a question
    10. Provide context and explain relevance
      • Give people the “why”

Videos

Tools