The great philosopher Plato said, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” You may not remember the rest of this speech, but you will certainly remember the beginning.
Who here would like the BEST formula for your next speech? It doesn’t matter if the speech is a traditional speech, an improvised speech, or a full-blown keynote address. This BEST formula is the BEST formula.
When I won 1st place in the District 60 Table Topics competition, I used this formula. The first step of the formula was to have a powerful beginning. My topic was “MUSIC”, so I searched my own memory for quotes about music. I opened with “Shakespeare said, ‘if music be the food of love, then play on’”
How many good quotes do you know? It’s a great practice to be reading interesting quotes on a regularly basis, and even collecting your own personal inventory. By doing so, you’ll automatically store your favorite quotes into your own memory banks. When the moment arises, your subconscious mind will find a quote that is relevant.
What’s just as important as the beginning? The ending! Similar to the beginning, we want our endings to be super polished and extremely relevant. We could use another quote, a personal story, or even a joke. Never end on a Q&A. If you’re really stuck for a captivating ending, just recycle your beginning.
In my improvised table topics winning speech, I used the same Shakespearean quote at the end that I used at the beginning. It’s not all that creative, but sometimes simplicity is more impactful. With such a poignant quote, the ending tied the audience right back to the beginning, which made the whole speech one cute little package.
B is for Beginning. E is for Ending. S is for Structure. Do you see my structure here? I’m making an acronym for you to remember. B.E.S.T. Beginning, Ending, Structure, and T I will tell you shortly.
Acronyms are great, but can be difficult to create for an improvised speech. In my improvised table topics winning speech, I used the structure of “Mind”, “Body”, and “Soul”, to illustrate the benefits of music. Topics like education, animals, and theatre, could all have a mind/body/soul structure.
What’s another type of structure? We could use the structure of “Past”, “Present”, and “Future”. This structure could easily be applied to topics like transportation, architecture, dating, etc. Think of different patterned structures you can have in your back pocket that you can super-impose onto any given subject matter.
Another great patterned structure is “Career”, “Relationships”, and “Health”. These categories could be applied to topics such as life problems, technology, governance, etc. Do you get the picture? Rather than just having three main points as part of your structure, think of a way that the three points could tie together to make a beautiful package!
Now it’s time to explain that T in BEST. T is for Timing. This is one of the easiest skills to master, yet most people overlook. In Toastmasters, we get disqualified if we go over time. That means we could have the best speech in the world, but not win because we went 30 seconds over time!! What a shame.
If you think Toastmasters is harsh, I want you to consider that general audiences are harsher. People lose their attention when a speech goes beyond it’s allotted time. At that point, people don’t care how great your speech is, because you are keeping them away from food, or their next important meeting.
Having said that, I notice a yellow light coming up, so I’ll summarise. Make your next speech a BEST speech, by having a great beginning, an awesome ending, creating a beautiful structured package, and don’t go over time.
Let this not be the end of my speech, but rather the beginning of your next speech. As ideas come to you about packaging content in various ways, write them down! Collect quotes and short stories. Be your B.E.S.T.!
And remember that everything works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end.
Let’s love the world together…
[)anish /|hmed, blind visionary