4 Secrets to Avoid Speech Writers Block

Speech Writers BlockHave you ever found yourself sitting at a desk, primed to write a speech you ‘have’ to give and the words just don’t seem to flow?

Angst. Frustration. Irritation.

It’s a pain, right?

Well the good news is – there are a few steps you can take to get past speech writers block and on your way to finding the words you need.

But before considering any of these, I’m going to assume that you have done the following homework first; that you’ve

  • Confirmed who your audience is going to be together with what they believe/ know and expect,
  • You know what you’re talking about when it comes to the topic at hand, and
  • You’ve figured out what you want to persuade your audience about and why they should care

If any of these aren’t true, don’t approach the starting line yet; you’re not ready.

But let’s say you’ve done all that and still you feel stuck…

Here are four ideas you can try to breakthrough to the speech you’d like to give:

#1 Ditch distractions

Don’t try to write a speech while distracted or when you can be easily distracted.

As I commonly say to clients – there are few things I know to be true, but one of them is this:

“Men can’t multi-task and women aren’t much better”.

So find a quiet space where you can write.

Turn off your mobile phone, take your land-line phone off the hook, and stay the heck away from your emails and social media accounts. They can all wait.

That said, some people like a bit of music on in the background when in creative mode. And if that’s you, fine.

But music or no music, here’s the bottom-line – Give yourself a break by creating an environment where you have the opportunity to be both focused and more relaxed.

# 2 Don’t edit as you go

This is a big no-no.

Turn your internal censor off when you start to write a speech. He or she can re-emerge later.

For now you should merely be concerned about getting ideas in your head down on paper. And don’t worry, you’ll have the chance to reorganize and hone these later.

Most top speakers find that the more stream of conscious they are at this point, the easier the task tends to be.

Truth is – If you constantly edit and rewrite as you go, there’s a good chance you’ll find that the job at hand takes longer than it should and the end product will be less fluid than it could be.

For many, this tendency is a central reason they get stuck almost before they start. And it’s especially common amongst those who expect to get everything right first time, every time.

But understand this. Speech writing tends to be an iterative process. So go easy on yourself – you don’t need perfection from the off.

Even the most experienced of speakers will edit the bejinkers out of speech drafts once they start to say it out loud. And that’s before making further changes as they determine how best to own and deliver the messages be shared – in ways that are more engaging for their audiences.

And bear in mind that it’s almost always easier to edit something you’ve written down ‘after the fact’ than to do this in your head or on the fly.

# 3 You don’t always have to start at the beginning

If you’re going to use your speech to tackle a complex or broad topic and you’re struggling with your starting point – see if jumping ahead helps.

As screenwriters and novelists will tell you – it’s always a good idea to figure out where you want your story to go before you set off on the journey of writing it.

And in thinking about aspects or elements of the journey you’d like your audience to take, you may well find that you start off with clearer ideas on some of these more than others. If that’s the case and you can articulate these straight away – Great, jot’em down.

All of these things may help to centre your thinking and result in you coming up with a better opening to your speech later.

Remember. You’re only in creative mode at this juncture and you really don’t have to create speeches in a purely linear fashion.

# 4 Try using time to your advantage

Last, but not least.

Here’s a tip that many a writer of books, blogs and most anything has found really helpful in the past:

Try writing in blocks of time.

Giving yourself say a limited number of minutes on the clock each time you sit down to write or stand up subsequently to edit your speech can be just the ticket.

This is especially true at the outset when marshaling your thoughts and determining the essence of what you may want to say.

The discipline of setting yourself a target of creating a first draft of a speech in say 30 minutes can be truly liberating.

Why? Well apart from the fact that time limits focus the mind wonderfully; they also encourage you not to edit as you go, as you simply don’t have the time.

However – and let me say, there are no hard and fast rules in this area – most of our clients tell us that limiting blocks of time for each step to their ideal speech to no more than 40 minutes at a go tends to work.

Going beyond this seems to test even the most determined of mortals, as it’s hard to focus on anything for longer chunks of time.

Well that’s a wrap on speech writing ideas for now – So, it’s Over to You

If you’ve had issues with writers block in the past – what approaches have you taken that worked for you?

And if you’ve tried other tacks that didn’t help at all – what were these and why do you think they failed?


Photo Credit: Photosteve101

About Eamonn O'Brien

Public speaking master, Eamonn O'Brien is the founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club.