How Speakers Can Break Through Writer’s Block to Craft Engaging Presentations

Great speeches do so much more than distill information. Instead, they take listeners on an expedition through the ins and outs of a topic, bringing it to life with every turn in the road. And to bring an audience along with you for the journey, you must know where you’re going. Create your own roadmap by identifying your keynote’s purpose and learning how to write an outline for a presentation that draws everyone in from start to finish. 

The Writing Process 

Often, speakers sit down to write their keynote speech, only to be internally bombarded with a jumble of thoughts, from facts they want to include to valuable points they’d like to cover. To sort through these thoughts, it’s important to pause and ask one simple question: “What is the purpose?” At the heart of every impactful speech is a message that knows its purpose. Begin with your purpose, and you’ll find that the information you want to convey will fall smoothly into place. 

The purpose of your keynote probably falls into one of these four categories: 

  • Education: You want to share your expertise on a particular topic — and your audience wants to learn! If you’re hosting a seminar or giving a guest presentation at a university, this is most likely your keynote’s purpose. 

  • Inspiration: Every audience wants to feel seen and understood. An inspirational keynote gives them exactly what they’re looking for! This kind of speech focuses more on emotion than information, although every great speech includes both. 
  • Motivation: Sometimes, you want to do more than inspire your listeners — you want to spur them into action. Motivational keynotes are perfect for fundraising, finding new donors, and inviting people into social initiatives. 

  • Entertainment: On occasion, an audience shows up with just one expectation: have fun! This type of keynote might look less traditional, from a stand-up comedy set to some simple levity during an otherwise “serious” event. 

Take note: your keynote may blend two of these purposes, and that’s absolutely fine! The important thing is to keep your goal in mind as you write, not to fit neatly into one of those boxes. For example, you may want to motivate people to give to your nonprofit organization, but in order to do so, you want to educate them first, highlighting the problem and showing them how they can join you in solving it. Once you’ve determined the purpose of your keynote, you’ll be ready to craft a great persuasive speech outline. 

Next, analyze your audience. No two groups of people are the same, and you’ll want to speak to those who are in this particular room. Locking in your target audience is a crucial step to crafting a great speech. Find out as much as you can about your listeners, because it will help you choose a topic that resonates with them. As you research, start outlining your speech. This gives your information a flow that’s easy to follow. Great speeches aren’t just a series of facts and stories strung together; they’re woven into a cohesive arc that audiences love to listen to. 

When Writer’s Block Strikes 

Even the best keynote speakers face that dreaded feeling from time to time: staring at a blinking cursor, unsure of what to say next. It happens to all of us — but learning how to overcome writer’s block is an essential skill for any great speaker. When you find yourself stuck in the middle of your outline, go back to the foundation: your purpose and your story. 

When you engage the power of story in your keynote speech, you’ll keep your audience riveted from start to finish. Our brains were wired to connect to storytelling. A study at Stanford proves this: two groups were given a list of 12 words. One group was instructed to memorize the list for 2 minutes. The other group was told to use their 2 minutes to construct a story using all 12 words. Afterward, only 13% of the “memorized list” group could recall all 12 words, while the “story” group demonstrated 93% recall. 1

When it comes to how to write a speech outline, there is no one perfect method. Instead, begin with a high level arc: introduction, body, conclusion. Begin your outline with a compelling hook, which is typically a narrative example. Tell a story from your own life, or share an interesting anecdote that seamlessly introduces your point. Then, outline the main body of your speech, creating a flow for the facts you want to share. Remember to keep the storyline intact throughout! Finally, conclude by inviting your audience into the narrative. Provide them with an action step! If you’ve done your job well, they’ll be eager to take it. 

Prepare Well For Any Stage

If you’re stepping up to the microphone anytime soon, the power of preparation cannot be overstated. Want to approach the stage with confidence and ease? Download our free resource, Your Ultimate Guide to Becoming an Engaging Speaker. At Redstory, we believe equipping speakers to share well on any stage matters. We’d love to help you take the next step toward giving your most inspiring and persuasive speech yet.

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