You’re going to write a speech. And you’re scared to death. Sure, I know you’re not afraid of the speechmaking. Spouting it out is comparatively easy. In fact, it may be fun. But writing-ah! That is another story. At the start let’s write this speech to Joe. We’ll pick out a typical Joe from your audience, a fellow who is a fairly good composite of the group. Then we’ll write our speech directly to Joe.
How do you think of the group to whom you’re going to talk? Perhaps you think of them as gentlemen and scholars. Again as brothers. Or maybe more familiarly as ‘you guys’ or ‘you lugs.’ But no matter how you have them pegged, there is one Joe among them who is a cross section of all of them.
Let’s put the words down on paper just as you would speak them to Joe. Write the word ‘Joe’ up there at the start of the first paragraph, put a comma behind it, and write:
Joe, as I stand up here on the platform tonight I can think of the time a few years ago when I met you in Kansas City. Remember, Joe? It was in that little restaurant with the blonde waitress. I still remember, Joe, what you said that night.
Would Joe and a group of Joes listen to a story like that? You know they would. And whenever you start off so closely to this Joe’s thoughts and interests, you are certain to get attention. Once I heard a speaker start a talk to a group of his dealers with, ‘Gentlemen and Chiselers.’ He smiled when he said it, of course, but the crowd roared. He was talking right down their alley. And all through the talk you could see that this man had thought of the Joes out in front of him when he was writing it to the one Joe who was a composite of the group. He wrote it just as he would talk to that Joe face to face. His talk was on the beam every minute.
Writing to Joe, you keep your talk on a conversational level. Sit him across the desk and talk to him as you write. You can’t go high-hat on a guy across the desk. You won’t get up in the blue sky, over his head, if you imagine he is right there talking to you, asking a question now and then. Putting in an argument occasionally. Adding a thought or two. No, you’ll keep down to earth where your talk belongs.
This goes for any kind of audience. All groups are made up of Joes. You may be talking to bankers, lawyers, merchant chiefs, rich men, poor men, beggar men, or thieves. But in each group there is an average Joe. Pick out that individual and write your speech to him.
By simply following this one piece of advice, you will be on the road to writing conquering your writers block, shoving nervousness aside and end up writing a great, audience captivating speech!