Planning Worksheet for Speeches


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Whether you think of this worksheet as a job aid or a checklist, it walks you through some of the critical thinking that you need to do when planning a speech. I've been a speechwriter for 10+ years, and developed this tool to help me stay on track with all the things that go into planning speaker remarks. It's greatest value, though, is that it's a good tool for collaborating with your speaker.

I've been working in higher ed for a decade or so, and typically work with those who are speaking about donor-related topics, so you'll see that reflected in the way that this worksheet is structured.

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Planning Worksheet for Speeches

  1. 1. Planning Worksheet: Speaker RemarksShould you accept this speaking engagement? 1. Will the speaking forum advance the goals/strategies of the company or lead to more business? 2. Will it attract media coverage? 3. Is the audience highly influential? 4. Can we get extended reach through the host group’s communications vehicles, such as Web site, newsletters, etc.?Four boxes checked = A; three = B; two = C. A or B requests are those most strategically aligned to theorganization.I. The Basics 1. Primary event coordinator/contact: 2. Event date: 3. Event title: 4. Event time: A.M. P.M. 5. Event location: 6. Event agenda available: 7. Event purpose: (It’s understood that UIF-related events have fundraising as a basic purpose. If other objectives exist for the event, please note them. What type of event or function is it - morning, evening, business meeting or festive party to honor someone? ) 8. Speaker position on agenda: 9. Suggested topic for speech (be specific): 10. Targeted time: (Does this time frame include a Q & A session?) 11. Targeted word count: 12. Hosted by:planningworksheetspeakerremarks-110829160815-phpapp01.doc1jlm 02/03/04
  2. 2. 13. Audience members to be singled out for special recognition by speaker: 14. Special guests in attendance:II. Speech Specifics 1. Is there relevant background data or information that could help with this project? If yes, who has this background data? For example, for focus events, the following information can be useful, even in very brief form: a. If you had to describe this audience to someone who knows nothing about them, what would you say? What are their primary demographics (age, gender, degree focus, etc.)? What characteristics do they share, and where do they differ from one another? Why do they tend to give; what’s their chief motivation? What are the primary things that this group cares about? Quick bullet points or factoids are fine, here. b. What are some key donor gifts made by those in this group that are fairly recent? What will these gifts accomplish? c. What are good examples of alumni or friends involvement that have not been used previously, for this group? d. What is the most relevant performance data for the specific campus, college, campaign or group; standard items that are usually examined on a more global level typically include number of gifts; total dollars raised; annual giving numbers; or, number of new scholarships or professorships since a certain date, etc. Most interesting is the data that you yourself use to gauge and measure the fundraising success for the entity or group in question. e. Who in this audience should be singled out for special recognition, if anyone? Keep in mind that this cannot be extensive—the entire speech cant just be recognition items—but who should definitely be recognized, and for what, and why? f. How many people are attending the event? 2. Why has this speaker been scheduled to speak to this particular audience? 3. What event details should the speaker be aware of?planningworksheetspeakerremarks-110829160815-phpapp01.doc2jlm 02/03/04
  3. 3. 4. What are the chief themes, primary ideas or principal concepts that the speaker’s remarks should promote? 5. What does the speaker know that other people want to know? What does the speaker know that other people should know? What are the top 3 issues or questions that this audience cares about? What are their top challenges, “hot buttons” or concerns? How can the speaker relate to the audience’s professional or personal challenges or interests? 6. What life experiences, philosophies, ideas or stories does the speaker have that could add life, meaning and a personal touch to the speech? Or, can the speaker’s colleagues, clients or family address any of these items? This helps to develop personal anecdotes or supporting stories that prove the speaker’s point. Stories help the audience “see” the speaker’s points. 7. Is this speakers style known (quick and staccato or slow and methodical)? 8. Are there words that this speaker has trouble with, or that they do not care to use? 9. Are there spacing or font size specifics that need to be considered for this particular speaker, for reading ease? For example, some speakers may need a much larger than standard font to assist the readability of the remarks for them. (Note: standard typeface used is Palatino Linotype or Times New Roman, with a 16 pt font size, in conjunction with double spacing.)III. Important Notes • To produce effective speeches, the speechwriter will need to know immediately when a change has occurred for either speaker line-up (order), or speaker key message(s), or event details.planningworksheetspeakerremarks-110829160815-phpapp01.doc3jlm 02/03/04
  4. 4. • Ideally, the speechwriter should hear about all event changes as they occur, from a knowledgeable resource(s). • The speechwriter should be involved in process of event planning as much as possible so that they will have a clear sense of what is occurring, and why. • The speechwriter should receive copies of Regional Director comments or intros, as they are available. It would also be useful for the speechwriter to receive copy(s) of the remarks for any other speakers, if possible. This will help to ensure that event details and/or other information [coming from the Foundation] are not repeated without purpose by the various multiple speakers scheduled to talk during the event. • The speechwriter should be provided full event details including agenda, speaker card, bios, etc.IV. Talk Tips for Speakers • A speech is really a performance – with accompanying key objective(s), relative to the specific audience. • Keep the script, and its delivery, conversational. Speakers should be communicating, not reading. • Research the audience. What is their age range? Educational background? Do people in the audience tend to know one another? What are their expectations for this meeting and/or speaker? • Ordinarily a speech should last no longer than 15 to 20 minutes. Longer than this, and audience attention begins to wander. An example of a relevant exception would be “state of the state” remarks; but timing should always be on your mind, even in this case. At the other end of the spectrum, a “short” speech is typically considered around 5 minutes, which demands a pretty tight message. • Try to be concise; avoid saying the same thing three ways, and edit out clichés and nonessential words. • Strive for an open and close that are around three or four sentences each. • Consider opening the speech by relating to the immediate situation: location; timing/date; current activities or events experienced by this audience, etc. • People are interested in other people. Incorporate stories about real people into your talk. • Humans process what they hear intellectually, emotionally and visually. Think about how to address each of these elements in your speaking. • While statistics provide credibility and necessary information for specific audiences, use them sparingly and in a distilled manner. • Where possible and logical, use “third-party endorsements” to enhance credibility; has the speaker’s organization been singled out for recognition by a regionally or nationally recognized group for notice? Does the speaker have highly acclaimed credentials? • Use humor cautiously. Is it appropriate for the occasion and the audience? Is it in good taste? Does it relate the speaker to the event or group? Does it support the objectives of the speech? • Read your talk out loud, to get a better idea of timing, pace and rhythm. You may want to tape your speech as well, to get a clearer perspective on it.planningworksheetspeakerremarks-110829160815-phpapp01.doc4jlm 02/03/04