Case study: Go from graphic to intelligent

Have you ever had to decide whether or not to change a line, that someone suggested was wrong? Sometimes you can make that decision easier by looking deeper into why you chose it. Let’s look at an example.

One of my recent speeches was intended to be a humorous speech. It was titled “I am weird” and it started by telling about the strange behavior that parents do in order to amuse their children. I punctuated much of the events by retelling it in humor wherever possible.

At one point in the speech, I said…

Even at that young age, there were often times when they said “I don’t want that!” to a bath. of course it sounded like “waaaaaaaa!” So I made up songs. Songs that would take their attention from the bath, give them a little bit of fun, and most importantly, let me get through bath time with my eardrums intact. (I then sing to the audience in an exaggerated manor) RUBBA DUB DUB, THREE MEN IN A TUB. THEY’RE ALL WET AND WRINKLING. RUBBA DUB DUB THREE MEN IN A TUB, THEY’RE NO LONGER STINKY!


To a child 8 months old, that’s COOOL! As they grow, they learn the words, they start singing with you. Then they are harder to distract. Suddenly, singing isn’t enough to keep them from noticing the water that runs into their eyes. And now the water is like some flesh eating liquid that dissolves their eyeballs inside their head. I know this because they told me. It sounds like “waaaaaaaa!”

As I was driving back home with a fellow Toastmaster club member, we discussed this part of the speech. He felt that it was too graphic and took away from the humor.

Hmmmm… I shared with him my goal in that paragraph. I had made it graphic because I wanted contrast. The humor was supposed to come from all the complicated VERY un-toddler-like speech, that I heard in a single loud exclamation or tears.

So there it was. I had spoken aloud my goal in that one part of the speech. We discussed it. I reflected that evening. I was scheduled to give that speech again the next morning. What could I do? I needed to keep the goal of that paragraph, but did I need to be so graphic. Perhaps not… What do you think about this?

To a child 8 months old, that’s COOOL! But as they grow, it gets harder to distract them. Suddenly, singing isn’t enough. At 12 months old, my child said to me, “Father. The shampoo seems to be running down my forehead and into my eyes. It is causing great pain but I am hoping your can correct this.” It sounded like “waaaaaaaa!”

Does this accomplish my goal? Did it still create a contrast between their loud crying and all the meaning behind it? I believe it did. The audience laughed much louder and longer right there than the previous day. Mission accomplished.

Some will tell you that you need not memorize a speech, or write it out completely. Some will say that you can simply create an outline. But I suggest that at one point you must do three things.

You must write out your stories. You must record yourself to review them. You must rewrite your stories as you told them.

You must be asking yourself, “Why?” First, did you notice I did not say, ” memorize.”?

Writing, recording, rewriting allows you to review your overall objective and the goals in your speech. You must be able to see and review what it is you are trying to accomplish. That way you can stay on track, and accomplish it as effectively as possible.

Just remember… as some say, “Keep it real!” Don’t write it as you want to be, but as you are. Be yourself.

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