Writers block when drafting a presentation

Ditch presentation procrastination forever: 4 Easy ideas to help you write awesome talks faster

Writers block when drafting a presentation

Ever find it tough to just find the time to sit down and write a business presentation you have to give, even if the deadline for your talk is fast approaching?  If you said yes, you’re not alone.

Welcome to the maddening world of writers’ block and procrastination.

But, here’s some better news. It can be easier to ditch such speech writing blues than you imagine.

However and before I share some ideas on this topic, can I check that a number of assumptions are true about you?

  • You’ve confirmed who your target audience is going to be and the range of knowledge and experiences they possess (ie You can answer the ‘Who’s in the house?’ questions)
  • You know what you’re expected to speak about and have the knowledge and experience to do this (as long as you can some apply time and effort to the job)
  • You’ve got some ideas regarding messages you could share with this audience that they might value

If you’re a yes, yes, and yes on these fronts but you’re still feeling a bit stuck…

Here are 4 ideas you can try to uncover, develop and craft a speech you can be proud of

#1: Ditch distractions

Avoid trying to write a talk in circumstances where you can be easily distracted.

As I often say to clients: There are few truisms that really matter to speakers, but this is one you should care about:

“Men can’t multi-task. And nor can Women!”

Don’t try to compete with noise. Find a quiet space when you need to write.

Turn off your laptop, your mobile phone, and even your land-line phone. Emails, tweets, calls, and more can all wait.

That said, some folks find a little background music is good for their creative mindset. And if that’s you, go right ahead.

But music yes or no, here’s what matters – Give yourself a break by creating an environment that makes you feel more focused and relaxed.

#2 Don’t edit as you go

This is a big and often head-wrecking no-no.

Switch your internal censor off when creating a first draft of any speech. He or she can re-emerge later.

Your only job at this point is to get ideas out of your head and written down on paper. And don’t despair, you’ll can revisit and modify these later.

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

And fact. If you incessantly try to edit and rewrite every sentence you write, you’ll likely find it takes far longer to write a talk AND, worse still, your final product will often be far less fluid/conversational. Oops.

FYI. This tendency is one of the key reasons so many folks feel stuck almost before they start. And it’s all too common amongst those who expect to get everything right first time, every time. But, here’s a reality:

An iterative approach to writing talks makes finding improvements easier. 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 ways to make their words sound even more engaging or interesting.

With experience, you’ll find it’s almost always easier to edit something you’ve written down ‘after the fact’ than if you try to do the same thing in your head or on the fly.

#3 You not obliged 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 Make time your friend

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 marshalling 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.


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