Organization is the key to life. I truly believe that organization is the key to life. That’s why today, I’m going to talk about how to organize your speech.
Your speech consists of a beginning, a middle, and an end. In the beginning, you tell them what you’re going to say. In the middle you say it, and in the end, you tell them what you said. Of course you want to do this elegantly and eloquently, which is why you shouldn’t worry about the beginning and the end when you first start out. Focus on the middle, and write the beginning and ending later.
Today I will focus on the middle. I’ll show you by example how to use the mind map method and the interests of your audience to narrow down what to talk about. And I’ll also discuss the magic number: three.
All speeches begin with a topic. Since we recently held a St. Patrick’s Day party, and we visited Ireland a few years ago, my mind has been on that fair Celtic island.
Ireland. Well, that’s too big of a topic—I have to narrow it down, but first I’ll open it up by creating a mind map. [Pointing to an imaginary dot in front of me.] Here is Ireland. [Drawing an imaginary circle around the dot with my finger.] What comes to my mind when I think about Ireland? Hmm, I think about our visit. I remember that when we first arrived at the Dublin airport, we picked up a rental car and drove to visit Powerscourt Gardens in a gentle rain. After visiting the lovely gardens and returning to our car in the parking lot an hour later, we found that the car battery was dead. You see, we’d turned on the headlights to drive in the rain, and the car didn’t have a “ding ding ding” warning system to remind us to turn them off when we locked the car. What’s more, it was Sunday, the day of rest in Catholic Ireland. It took a few hours to find a mechanic to jump start our car so we could be on our way. A memorable story.
What else? We went to several pubs in Ireland to experience the pub life, and visited the Guiness beer brewery. We learned a lot about Irish history. And we drove around the scenic Ring of Kerry, feasting our eyes on Ireland’s thirty shades of green.
The most important number for a speech is not thirty, however, but three, as in three supporting points. So I could choose three unrelated memories from my mind map of Ireland, but I’d rather narrow it down further.
I can narrow things down according to what I know the most about. Or I can narrow things down according to what I’m most interested in and would like to learn more about through research. But I’m going to narrow down my speech according to my audience. I currently live in South Korea, so my audience will be mainly Koreans, with a sprinkling of Americans.
I’ve long thought that the histories of Ireland and South Korea have much in common. My Korean audience would find that interesting. Historical similarities. OK, that will be my focus. Remember that story about the car battery dying? Forgetaboutit. Out it goes.
What will my three supporting points about history be?
1. Both Ireland and Korea have portal tombs made of stone that are thousands of years old called “dolmen” in English, or “goindol” in Korean. They’re two huge slabs of standing rock, with another huge slab on top. It’s a mystery how and why they were created.
2. Ireland and Korea have in common unfortunate geographic locations. Both Ireland and Korea are located near powerful neighbors, which has led to warfare and colonization. Ireland was too close to England, while Korea was too close to Japan and China.
3. As a result of their tragic history, a large number of Irish and Koreans migrated to other countries. In the United States, we have thriving communities of Koreans in Los Angeles, New York, and the Washington, D.C. area, while large numbers of Irish settled in Boston, New York and Chicago. Far more people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S., where 35 million people have Irish ancestors, than on the island of Ireland, with 6.4 million people.
OK, now that I’ve got my three points, I’ll work on writing a great beginning and ending.
Remember, organization is the key to life. The middle of a speech can be as foggy as Irish mist. Use a mind map to find concrete images in the fog, and then keep your audience in mind when you choose which ones to talk about. Three is the key number. Three parts to your speech: beginning, middle and end, and in the middle, three supporting points. Hmm, there are three leaves in a shamrock, too.
How will I end that speech? Perhaps the same way I’ll end this one, because I’m still thinking fondly about Ireland.
[Singing] “For when Irish eyes are smiling, sure they’ll steal your heart away.”