Now that the nice weather is here I have been thinking about gardening and speeches, and I have realized that they have many things in common… and not just that they are both hard work…
Do you garden? If so, you probably look forward to receiving the seed catalogue, poring over them and deciding what to put in where in your garden – flowers or vegetables, what kinds, how many. You may read books about perennial planting, or container gardening. You talk to other gardeners to get advice about the best flowers or vegetables to plant for your soil, and maybe get pictures of their garden so that you know what you are looking for. You might want to attract hummingbirds or other birds to your backyard and so you look up information on what types of shrubs to plant. Then you have to decide where your garden will be, how big, will you have a pathway, what will your focus be. You need to make sure that you have different colours and plants throughout the garden and not just bunch them up in one place. You might want to put in a path so that people can leisurely stroll through your garden. Perhaps you will have a bench where they can sit and pause as they view your garden, perhaps close to your piece de resistance – the most beautiful flower or amazing vegetable plants.
If you are a speaker who is a member of Toastmasters International, each month you receive a Toastmasters magazine with many articles and suggestions for speeches. You also read through your manuals deciding on what type of speech you will give (you do, don’t you???) and if you belong to more than one club, to which club you will give it. You may keep a file folder of funny stories that you have found, or those from your personal experience. You talk to other Toastmasters and ask for advice about how to craft your speech, what to put into it and what to leave out. Then you decide on a plan. What will you use to attract the attention of the audience? What colourful words or alliterations can be used to draw people in? Then you think about the body of your speech. You will need to have it move at a gentle pace so that everyone will be able to understand what you are saying. You will need to add pauses for particular points (your best flowers) so that people can appreciate what you said.
You will want to fill out the body of the speech, just as you would the garden – a few points here, a few more over there, leading the audience gently down the garden path of your speech to the conclusion where you give them your best parting tip.
I am sure you can now clearly see how crafting a speech is like planting a garden. If you follow this “speech gardening plan”, you will be sure to create excellent speeches. Just remember the following:
Just as a garden needs a variety of colour – a speech needs colourful words to draw pictures in the minds of the audience.
A garden contains many different types of flowers and/or vegetables. A speech needs many points of interest or stories.
A garden needs a path to guide the viewer. A speech needs to be linked with words and phrases to lead the audience from opening to conclusion.
People often want to “stop and smell the roses.” The audience needs time to pause and ponder a particularly powerful statement. The speech needs to be nicely paced and not rushed.
In a garden it is important not to bunch everything together, but to spread it out so that people can enjoy it. In a speech it’s important not to rush or to put all the information in the first paragraph or the last paragraph.
Oh yes, one more thing. A gardener has to work on his or her garden and pull the weeds on a regular basis in order to keep the garden beautiful and a speaker needs to read through and weed his speech in order to take out extraneous words to make it fit the required time frame.