how to write a speech with a little help from Walt Disney
Most of us probably can’t afford the luxury of a professional speechwriter to craft our presentations for us but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn how to write a speech by looking at how the pro’s do it.

In this post, I want to share with you how you can use the same strategy to write speeches that Walt Disney used to create his cartoon masterpieces.

Disney used a three-stage strategy which has been described in detail by NLP expert Robert Dilts. Dilts noted that Walt Disney used a three-step process when crafting the storyboards for his amazing films. He named these phases; Dreamer, Realist and Critic.

How to write a speech – The Dreamer:

The dreamer phase is where you let your imagination run wild and create as many possible ideas around your topic as possible. You don’t criticise and you don’t judge, you just allow your imagination free rein to come up with a theme, structure or argument for your speech.  To help you get your head around this idea, here are a couple of examples which show how I use the dreamer phase. They should help you learn how to write a speech.

Example 1:   When I know I have to deliver a speech on a particular subject in a few weeks I turn the creative element of  the speech writing process over to my subconscious mind, and ask it to “give me a nudge” when it comes up with a solution to the problem of what I am going to say. I then forget about the speech for a week or so. Usually, within a few days, an idea or approach will pop into my head in plenty of time for me to turn it into a  good presentation.

Example 2: I will go for a walk and mull over possible ideas or I will sit back, look up at the ceiling and allow myself to imagine the ideal speech on my particular topic. Then, and only then will I sit down in front of my computer and write out a draft of my presentation without editing or judging. It’s a stream of consciousness type of writing.  I just let the words flow. I know that this isn’t the finished article and so I can let go of criticism and perfectionism at this stage. That will come later.

How to write a speech – The Realist:

This next second phase is all about turning the first ideas that came to me in the dreamer stage into a workable draft.  It’s still not perfect, but it is 80% of the way there. My aim in this phase is to develop a plan that will bring my dream to reality. To do that, I need to develop the original idea and add details, stories, examples and case studies. I need to find a logical flow that will allow me to take my audience on a journey from where they are when I start my speech to where I need them to be at the end.

How to write a speech – The Critic:

It’s important to understand that, in this final phase, you are not criticising the basic idea. You are evaluating the draft script and are checking that what you have written is relevant, logical and impactful.

In the context of writing a speech, we could rename the critic as “the editor.” Someone whose job is to tighten up the language, clarify the messages and make sure that the words sound good when spoken. You are also checking on the length of the final presentation to make certain that you won’t go over your target time when delivering it.

Typically I do this final stage phase while wandering around my office, reading out sections of the speech, listening to how they sound and how they flow. When I hit a section that doesn’t sound right, I mark it with pencil and then edit it on the computer later once I have completed a full read through. I use the stopwatch on my Smartphone to check the timings and, if I am over time, I use this phase to edit out any non-essential content.

Over to you…

I’d love to know how this speech writing tip compares with your own approach so let me know via the comments link below. I plan to write more articles on how to write a speech in the coming months so if you have any specific issues you want me to cover just send me a comment.


1 Comment

  1. Fred E. Miller on 25/07/2011 at 01:31

    Good stuff here, Gavin!

    Have you eve looked at Mind Mapping? It’s a non-linear, visual tool you might also find helpful for developing, practicing and delivering presentations.

    I really liked listening to you delivering the material.

    Have you had any comments since you’ve added the audio to your posts.


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