Share this Page URL

Chapter 13. Getting Organized > Time Marches On - Pg. 100

Getting Organized 100 Every time you make a speech, you want your audience to think about what you're saying as you say it. You want them to process the message by considering your main idea and its supporting points. And you want your speech to be memorable, too. In order to help your audience understand your points and recall them with clarity and pleasure, you need to organize your speech into a recognizable and easy-to-follow pattern. In this chapter, you first learn about time limits. How long is an effective speech? Then you'll learn how to analyze different organizational patterns. Next, we'll discuss how to select the organizational pattern that suits your purpose, audience, and occasion. This chapter takes you through the process of organizing a topic, step-by-step. Time Marches On William Henry Harrison's inaugural address in 1841 was 9,000 words long. It took two full hours to deliver, and it was a freezing day. Harrison came down with pneumonia and died a month later. The moral of the story? The speaker who plans to go on for hours should not only have a mighty good speech, but should deliver it where it's warm. Abraham Lincoln was once asked how long he thought a man's legs should be. "Long enough to reach the ground," he answered. How long should your speech be? Long enough to "reach the ground"--in other words, to accomplish what it intends. For example, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address --recognized as one of the finest speeches of all time--is a mere 265 words long. Less is More Once during a meeting, I was on my way back from the restroom when I ran into another member of the audience. Wondering whether it was a good time to go back into the room where the speaker was talking, I asked, "Has the speaker finished?" "Yes," my colleague replied, "but he's still talking." When deciding how long to speak, your first consideration should be how much time you are allo- cated--and you often don't have much control over this. Whatever length of time you're given, you're always better off going under the time limit rather than over. Cheat on the short side--you're usually doing your audience a favor: The only thing worse than listening to a bad speech is listening to a long, bad speech. Hello, I Came to Say I Cannot Stay Few people resent a good, brief speech, but almost everyone resents having their time wasted. With speech, long does not equal better. If you've successfully communicated up to three points, you've done well. If you try to get too many points across, it's possible (in fact, probable) that your audience won't remember any of them clearly. In fact, a great way to undo the effects of a barn-storming speech is to exceed your allotted time or to keep on talking after you've said your piece. Speech of the Devil