Day 310: Preparing to Speak

November 7th, 2010

“Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so is he.” -Publilius Syrus  (Roman author, 1st century B.C.)

Here’s the thing about getting  what you want… then you have to do it. I have been envisioning myself as a public inspirational speaker for years. Anyone who knows me would agree I have a lot to say, but still, giving a speech is different than talking. A speech, especially a short one, is an exercise in planning and preparation.  Woodrow Wilson was once asked how long it took him to write a speech. He answered,  “‘That depends. If I am to speak 10 minutes, I need a week for preparation. If 15 minutes, 3 days. If half hour, two days. If an hour, I am ready now.’”

I have twenty minutes at a local innovation conference coming up on Thursday and even though I am getting closer to knowing what I want to say, the transitions and structure of the speech is yet to be constructed or at least refined. Theoretically, according to Wilson’s timetable I have enough days still, but I am not stepping up to the microphone with the same confidence that he undoubtedly had.

Much as I love the direction that my life is headed, I am often in the midst of steep learning curves- the kind that are at such an incline that you know you are going to slip up. Getting what you want in life is like that-  the idea is always different than the reality and the time it takes to get used to something, to really embrace the doing of it is a learning process where you have to be ok about not looking your best.

As I contemplated the fear that has stopped me from preparing sooner, Clay the new CEO at Good Clean Love reminded me that this process is no different from all the innovating and inventing of myself that the business took-  “Guess what you’re going to make mistakes, but no one is going to die from them and in the end you will have a  whole new set of skills to rely on. ”

Although I don’t know who said this, “The best way to make a good speech is to have a good beginning and a good ending – and have them close together” I am taking the advice to heart.  I know that I will be lucky to communicate just a couple of ideas well enough for them to be remembered in twenty minutes. Seems like the key is focused, structured clarity – less is more and don’t worry about what it comes out looking like.

Leave a Reply