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Key to Success: Edit Ernest-ly

The first draft of anything is sh-t.

Ernest Hemingway

Write, read aloud, edit, repeat…repeat…repeat…

When writing a speech, whether a short toast or a 30-minute lecture, make the time to read the speech aloud and edit and edit and edit. Even Ernest Hemingway acknowledged that not even a genius can write a perfect first draft.

You are looking for the following when you read aloud:

  • Storytelling – Does the talk have a beginning, a middle and an end? Yes, even a 2-minute toast.
  • Ease of Delivery – Do you stumble over a particular word or turn of phrase?
  • Eye Contact – Are you comfortable enough with the text to lift your eyes up and look around?
  • Audience Reaction – Is the test audience laughing/crying/applauding where you expect? Are they looking at your or looking around?

When editing, don’t force a line to work after 2-3 tries…sometimes you have to use the “delete” key …even on your favorite line.

It will only hurt for a minute…

In fact, you can post your favorite line that you couldn’t use in the space below! I’ll start with one of my most recent ones:

“We have survived Civil Wars, World Wars and Culture Wars. This is nothing but a skirmish in our history. We will certainly survive this assault on our economy.”

Speaker stumbled over “Culture Wars” (say it 3 times fast…it is difficult). Every time he backtracked and said it right, but he just could not say it straight through…Dang…

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