The Biggest Mistake You’re Making When You Write a Speech

“This just doesn’t sound right.”

“It looked good on the page, but when I said it during my presentation…”

My clients often tell me how perplexed they were when the words that they polished so lovingly on the page failed to come to life when they said them out loud. The simple fact to remember is that sentences that are written to be read are (literally!) not created the same as those meant to be spoken. Read a contemporary play or screenplay: with few exceptions you’ll see that the dialogue doesn’t read like it might in a novel. Those writers are always working with the speaker and the audience in mind–not a reader.

As you are working on your speech, take frequent breaks to read what you’ve written out loud. Pay particular attention to transitions–connecting the end of one paragraph to the beginning of the next when you don’t have the formatting on the page to help your reader. Are you going to pause? Maybe add a few words to connect the dots for your audience? Details like this can make the difference between a presentation that is stilted and uncomfortable to deliver and one that flows naturally.

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