“The internalizing and transfer of information has been pivotal throughout human history. It led our ancestors to build stone tools, then communities then agriculture. It built our cities has dispelled our false understandings of our world and universe, it literally evolved our brain and will continue to change every aspect of human existence whether you like it or not.”

Daniel A. Janssen

The writing rule of three for effective oral communications

“He who has a why can bear any how.”

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

The purpose of tonight’s talk is to share with you a technique that will help you write speeches with ease. As many of you know, I have not had much trouble in this area. In fact, with a busy life schedule I used this rule of three technique to complete my CTM in 3 months, then I took a break from writing speeches and then completed my ATM-B in another 3 months. In my first year, I had completed 20 speeches talking at 4 clubs and 2 social events and collected another 25 topics with several points on each topic ready for the next level. I am not saying this to impress you but impress upon you that writing speeches can be a simple task. Maybe not always easy but it is simple, especially when you apply the ‘rule of 3’.

I did have some advantages: a good library of notes, quotes, and word pictures. Even without this site, the web is filled with these things, so that point is not that much of an advantage. I think the main reason why I was able to do so well is I had a clear purpose for joining Toastmasters and did not hesitate to get going and risk making mistakes, some embarrassment, and all the rest of the stuff that goes along with inexperience.

My ‘why’ was clear. To paraphrase the quote I started with: “When you have a clear why the how comes easy.”

Writing the speech: Rule of three

I learned this principle from Evelyn Wood’s dynamic learning course. She says that it is known that people learn better in 3s. Like in learning: you would read something, write it, and speak it. A similar principle applies to speaking.

Rule of 3: Three points, three paragraphs, one theme

You will want to use 3 points to illustrate that theme. In each paragraph, create a point that explains the theme. The points could be:

  1. A word picture/anecdote /short story / illustration.

  2. Some statistics or facts.

  3. A personal experience or experience of a person.

Here, this principle is explained in a funny but true saying: you want to tell the audience what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them. It makes writing a speech easy and gets your message across.

Tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them.

3 paragraphs with a point in each paragraph said in a different way. Word pictures, statistics or facts, and a personal experience or the experience of a real person. That’s it, a simple, easy, effective way to write a speech.

Add a couple of jokes and a quote or two and you will sound like a professional communicating a clear and easy to absorb message.

Make sure to add a joke or two because “the mind can only absorb what the seat can endure.” Add some vocal variety, gestures, body movement, pauses, and other little techniques that we learn at Toastmasters and list your name with the local speaking bureau and earn an extra 50k a year.

Example of how I lay out my paper prior to filling in the text:

Speech Title

Opening: Here, I come up with a line or two, a joke or quote to start my talk with some impact. Be excited and enthusiastic about your speech.

Body:

Point one: use a word picture, anecdote, or short story to illustrate your point.

(insert quotes and/or a little humor here)

Point two: use a personal experience or experience of real people that the audience can relate to.

(insert quotes and/or a little humor here)

Point three: use some statistics or facts to communicate the speech.

(These points can be in any order that works best for your topic. Then add a couple of jokes and quotes and practice your delivery several times.)

Conclusion: Close with a strong statement and or review the three point to solidify what you were trying to communicate.

Additional tips to speech preparation:

Gather resources and continue feeding your resource bank with quotes, stories, articles, and studies that are of interest to you. Keep an ongoing list of things that really interest you, passions, or exciting things. I suggest 3 file folders:

1) Topics that interest me
2) Good quotes and stories
3) Facts, statistics, and resources

(The use of word pictures is known to be one of the most effective ways of getting a point across)

Lay out your paper with: (It is so much easier to choose a topic when the speech structure is in place.)

Opening, Body (Point one, Point two, Point three), and Closing

Define your purpose. Understand who your audience is and determine what you want them to do. (Understand your point – entertain them – educate – move to action – etc.)

Choose your topic and think of 3 points. (A story, a fact or statistic, or a human experience) Add a joke and a quote and apply some TM techniques. (Vocal variety, gestures, body movement, etc.)

Make a rough copy and practice it once or twice and add or subtract words or sentences as you feel the need, then make your final draft and practice it several times with various techniques.

Watch speakers, trainers, and leaders (who have a purpose) to notice their body movement, hand gestures, vocal variety, and how they organize the speech.

Some ideas on choosing a topic:

Think and write down all the subjects that interest you most. (This is sometimes called blue sky thinking or dream writing) These are your passions. What are you passionate about? Everybody can talk all day long about their passions but they get bogged down when they try to write a 10 min speech.

Answer this question: What would you do if you had unlimited resources and no fear of anything? What would you do with your time? These may be some of your loves and passions.

As I mentioned earlier, start a file and continually add to it as you come across things in life and think of things you really like.

Samples speeches using “Rule of Three”:

Below are some examples of how the Rule of 3 was used in writing a speech. In all of them your will see a distinct opening, body and closing with the use of quotes, jokes, stories and analogies which helped make for an effective oral presentation. Of course it may be dry to read them but when you deliver your speech and you add your passion, excitement, and the various skills you have learned it makes your speech come alive in your listeners ears and minds.

  • Vocal variety

  • Body gestures

  • Facial gestures

  • Pauses

  • Voice rate & pitch

  • Your love for the speech and the listeners

ATM Manual Speech, Story Telling (5-7 min) Historical Speech: A simple opening, body & conclusion.
“A Northwest Territories Town Changed for Ever”

ATM-B Speech, Speaking to Inform, The Abstract Speech (10-12 min)
“You have to have Goals”

ATM Speech from Speaking to Inform Manual; Speech to Inform: (10 min.)
“Mislead by the Media”

ATM-B Speech, Uplift the Spirit from Specialty Speeches manual (5-7 min)
“With out a vision the people perish”


This post was written by Daniel Janssen.

Daniel A. Janssen

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