Quick and Dirty Speech Making – Part 1

Learn how to create an engaging and interesting speech in six steps.

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read

Have you ever been face to face with a blank piece of paper? Stressing out because the clock is ticking closer and closer to your presentation deadline … wondering when all your creative juices are going to kick in?

You’re not alone.

Creating an engaging and interesting speech is a challenge, even for experienced professional speakers.

As a coach, I created a quick and dirty technique, to help my clients create interesting and engaging speeches. It works really well for things like self-introductions, best man speeches, and eulogies and even for corporate motivational talks, but it doesn’t work for every topic. Still, it’s a good technique to master because the basic elements in this model are also part of more complex techniques.

Today’s episode is the first of a two-part program called, The Public Speaker’s Quick and Dirty Speechmaking. This approach has six steps and uses personal stories and examples as the foundation. It’s very simple. And the best part is that the stories make the speech very easy to deliver and fun to listen to.

You might want to try this technique as I explain it. Like most things, it gets easier with practice.

Step One - Brainstorm Descriptive Adjectives

So, the first step is to take out six pieces of paper—that’s right, exactly six. Go ahead, hit pause, I’ll wait. Oh, don’t forget to grab a pen.

OK, ready?

On the first piece of paper, write down the main topic. If it’s a best man speech write the name of the groom, if it’s a project at work, write down the project name.

Remember, you’re brainstorming. Please don’t edit any ideas, not yet.

Next, you’ll need a timer. You can use your cell phone or a watch. Set it for exactly two minutes.

Until the timer beeps, write down as many descriptive adjectives for your topic that you can think of. For example, my topic is John, so I might write, energetic, magnetic, passionate, determined, strong-willed, motivated, compassionate, silly, frail…you get the idea, you’re just listing descriptive adjectives.

Remember, you’re brainstorming. Please don’t edit any ideas, not yet. If you think it, write it. Don’t say, ”Nah, I can think of something better.” The idea is to write down as many adjectives as you can in the two minutes. Think of it as a contest. The more you write the better.

When your time is up, circle the “best” three words from your list. What do I mean by the best? Well, the ones that are the most interesting. The ones that might be a little unusual or unexpected. The ones that communicate the most. The ones that appeal to you. You’ll know.


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.