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Being asked to speak at an event is an honour. You are likely to be excited and nervous at the same time. All you need to do now is to create your content.

If you thought that you could just make it up as you step onto the stage then think again. That approach will not work. Your expertise, insights and knowledge will be one of the key reasons why you have been asked to speak. Therefore it’s critical that your content meets and exceeds the expectations of the event planner.

To help we have developed a 5 step content creation process for you.

Let’s get started.

Write the words down

This vital first step will set you on your path to creating a great presentation. Quite simply, all you need to do at this point is to get all of your thoughts captured. It is about getting the words down. It’s best to do this exercise without hesitation. Whatever your thoughts are just let them come. Do not get in the way of your flow.

Think of all that you could say on the subject that is relevant for the speaking gig and get it written, typed or recorded. The important thing is not to over think this step. It’s all part of the process.

At this stage you are not worrying about editing. That comes later in our process. For now what you are doing is establishing how much content you have available to you. If you have too much material that is a good thing. It’s much worse to have too little. If you have too little information you will need to do some more research, interviews or polls etc. to provide what you need.

Be aware though, that if you have too little content maybe this speaking opportunity is not one for you.

Related Reading – Should I accept this speaking opportunity?

Create a Storyboard

The next step is to look at the flow of your presentation. What message do you want to leave with the attendees? What is the key message or idea or statement that you need to provide?

Storyboards are usually associated with film shoots but the same technique can be applied to helping you create your content. The storyboard approach is useful as it provides that all important structure. It enables you to see everything from a definite beginning to a definite ending. You don’t have to sketch out your ideas unless you want to. You can simply write key words in a number of boxes. Just do whatever feels and works best for you.

The point of this step is to ensure that you know how you want to start, where you want to take your audience and how you want to close.

Structure is super important and it helps makes speakers stand out. It also helps you stay on track throughout and minimises the chances of you losing your way. Without a storyboard approach to help, you could end up going all over the place and losing your attendees.

Put the words in order

Once you have decided on your storyboard which provides your structure, you need to go back to the words you collected in step 1.  At this point you will be able to see what words you need and you can disregard the rest. Although it’s best to keep content not being used to one side just in case it becomes useful later on.

However for now, take the words you need and slot them into the relevant scene or box on your storyboard. Remember step 1 was just an initial ‘content download’ to get the process underway. You will need take out some of your content and you may need to add new content. This is where the hard work kicks in.

You are now moving towards your first draft of structured content. Prior to this you have collated content and developed a storyboard structure.

It can be tempting to rush this step. After all you are almost done. However, this critical step if undertaken with diligence will save you a lot of time so treat it with the same attention of focus as the first 2 steps.

Say the words out loud

When you have completed step 3 you can take your first run at presenting. All you need is a space in which you will not be interrupted.

It is essential that you time the session. It doesn’t matter at this point if you go over the time. Just keep the clock going and note the time taken at the end. Do not stop if you go under or over time. You need this information.

If you do go over the time slot allowed by the event planner, you will need to decide what you can cut from your talk. If you are under time, by how much? If it is a big amount you will need to add some more content in. However, if you are only a minute or so out you will probably be ok. Time always goes faster when you are in the ‘live’ event.

Depending on how far adrift you are you may need to talk to the event planner and advise them of how big you could put in their programme. The worst thing you could do is to accept a 40 minute slot and then deliver 10 minutes of content. At the other extreme you have been allowed 40 minutes but your talk needs 60 minutes. Neither of these situations would be good. All events have schedules that need to be adhered to. Timing your practice will help you adjust accordingly.

As well as having the opportunity to time your session this step is also important for another major reason. It’s the first time you will hear the words out loud. This will help you understand what flows, what word you use a lot, what words you may be not so good at pronouncing etc. the feedback from this step is invaluable.

Make your changes and practice again

Now that you have identified changes and made adjustments it is time to do another run through. As you did in the previous step, start your timer and practice again.

What time do you now end up with? Is it close to the time slot allocated to you? In your editing have you inadvertently lost any of your key message or information?

Once you are happy, take a look at the brief provided to you by the event planner. Check that your content delivers against the brief. If it does then you are all set. If not, then make changes until you are happy.

You don’t need to keep practising to be word perfect. In fact that is as dangerous as not rehearsing.  What you are looking for is a sense of how your presentation sounds. You will know when you are ready.

Everyone time you speak you are on show

Following the steps outlined above will help you create content for your speaking gig. You can of course adjust these steps and develop your own method for creating content. The key imperative is that before you speak live at the event, you have an idea of how the content works and how you sound.

Take any great sportsman or woman or team and one thing is certain. They will be practising time and again before they step into the arena. They wouldn’t’ dream of going for gold without knowing where their strengths and weaknesses lay. The same approach must be taken if you are to deliver a great speaking experience. It’s worth remembering that every time you speak you are on show, now go practice and then deliver your very best.