Organizing and Spicing Up Your Speech Help
Introduction to Organizing and Spicing Up Your Speech
Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.
—A. A. Milne, 1882–1956
In this lesson, you will learn about some tools to help you spice up your speech—and how to keep it organized.
Have you ever wanted a certain item such as a tool, but been unable to find it? I recently needed to test an electrical outlet to see if it was working, and I went in search of my circuit tester. This is a tool that I very rarely use, but I thought I knew just where it was. I didn't. After much aggravation and thrashing around, searching the same toolboxes three or four times over, I went to the hardware store and bought another. I finished the home repair and put away my new circuit tester—right next to the old one that I'd been searching for!
Here is another maxim: "If you can't find it when you need it, you don't own it." I did, in fact, own a circuit tester, but I couldn't find it when I needed it and ended up acting as though I didn't own it by purchasing a new one. The basic principle here is that you need to be organized if you want to be effective in any endeavor.
This principle most definitely holds true for public speaking, as much as it does for home repairs or any other task. You will find yourself preparing your speech and thinking, "Didn't Mark Twain… or somebody… say something funny… I think it was funny… about this topic?" You may be able to recall the gist of the quotation, but you just won't be able to remember the exact wording, the author, or even where you come across it.
If you were well organized, however, you would be able to track down that quotation in a short amount of time, enabling you to use it to spice up your speech. This lesson will help you get organized now, so that you'll be able to find the tools when you need them in the future.
Collect and Organize Information
Using a Computer
The computer is the easiest and most efficient tool for collecting material for speeches. You will use it to gather the information in the first place, which we'll discuss in a moment, but you'll also want to use your computer to organize and save those bits of spice.
The beauty of computer storage is that you can very easily index your material by topic. So let's say that you finally track down that Mark Twain quotation, perhaps this one:
To be busy is man's only happiness.
I found this quotation in a book, so my first step would be to type it into my computer using a standard word processing program. But the next step is very important: The quotation needs to be categorized so that I can find it in the future when looking for spice on a particular speech topic. So at this point, you would ask yourself what speech topics this quotation might be useful for.
Obviously, this Twain snippet would be useful if you were speaking on the topic of happiness. Likewise, it would be useful on the topic of hard work, and conversely on the topic of overwork or stress management. It might seem odd at this point to worry about what topics this quotation applies to since it's the only quotation that we've gathered so far. But it will become very important as time goes along, because you will quickly develop the habit of collecting material like this, and as your collection gets bigger, finding material will get much harder.
There are many ways to gather and categorize material like this Twain quotation. If you're fairly savvy with your computer, the best way is to create a database file, since the computer database programs work exactly like the old-fashioned index card system, which we'll consider next. A database file will allow you to categorize each quotation by author and by topic, and it will enable you to easily assign several topics to one quotation.
I use a database that I designed myself to keep track of all my quotations. I only had to type in the Twain quotation once, then I used a series of drop-down boxes to select the topics of Happiness, Work, and Stress Management. Here is what that database card looks like:
Once you've created a database file, you can easily print out a report of all your quotations listed by topic. Speaking on the topic of gardening? Just open your quotations database file and print out a report of all your quotations on Gardening.
However, learning to use a database program can be a daunting task, so if you aren't interested in creating such a file, you can simply create a collection of quotations using a word processing program. Create a category with the header Happiness, then type in the Twain quotation below that header. Copy the quotation, create a new header called Work, and paste in the Twain quotation there. It's a bit more cumbersome than the database approach, but every bit as effective.
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