Speaking tips: Blogging for Speakers

What is the point of a blog? I’ve heard, read, and even asked this question myself in the past. In an early assessment, I thought that a blogger fell into one of these categories:

1. Someone who wanted to be discovered as a writer or reporter.
2. Someone with way too much free time on their hands.
3. Someone with a bone to pick with a segment of society (i.e. politicians, other bloggers or the local electric company).
4. Someone just slightly insane.
5. All of the above.

Upon further review, I’ve discovered an interesting mix of the above, as well as some completely normal people out there using blogs to get their message out. And, believe it or not, there are some pretty good messages working their way out into the world. This brings me to the point of this post: How blogging can help your writing and speaking skills. 

A few months back, I read a book called World Class Speaking, and in that book one of the authors, Craig Valentine, talks about the power of writing every day and how it was integral to his success. He issues the challenge to the reader to make a personal pledge to write a set number of words each and each day. His number was 747, which has an obvious connotation for most people. When I first read this, I thought, “Gee, that sounds like a good idea…”. Then I went on with my life.

After a bit of time, and an opportunity to meet Craig in person, I realized that this goal wasn’t just integral to my future success, it was critical! As a person who wants to see success as a speaker, writing is – frankly – the only way to get there from here. If I ever want to create anything in life, I need to be a better writer. Some examples include:

1. Any type of speeches
2. Books
3. Checklists (like I have on my website)
4. Training Sesions
5. Newsletters
…you get the idea

Some of you might be thinking “I can give speeches without writing…”. Here’s the truth: Not if you want to be successful doing it.

As for the rest, it’s the same answer, but you may question the need to write every day, or post to a blog every day like I do. My answer? You don’t need to blog every day,or post your work to be seen by others. It’s a pretty big leap of faith to feel comfortable putting your words on display at all, much less every day. Should you write every day? Yes. 747 words? hmmm…that’s your call. I personally shoot for 300, but I do make a note when I have more than 747, just because I find it interesting to meet that challenge from time-to-time.

For my goal, the idea was to write a topic about speaking, leadership or project management every day. The reasons I chose the blog (and WordPress) format are:

1. It allows me to see how my work looks “in public”
2. It allows me to collect comments and feedback
3. It keeps me honest (I’ve been asked, “What are you going to write about today?”)
4. I thought it might be fun (!)
5. I wanted to protect my “Talk to the Human™” idea, so this made it publically mine.

This doesn’t mean every post has to be my best work. Heck, did you see the post from 23 September? Ack. Not my best work. However, for every one of those “ack” posts, there is at least one I think would make a good article, of feed into a chapter in a book. Just the day before, my post on reading was pretty well received.

In the end, only you can decide if blogging is the way you want to put your thoughts on paper, or if actual paper might be the better choice. If you do decide to blog, I recommend you follow these few tips:

1. Don’t commit to posting every day. Try every week, then add “bonus content” if you want to post more.
2. Don’t worry about the theme at first. Find your voice and the theme will present itself.
3. Don’t worry about background colors at first either. You can (and should) make changes over time.
4. Don’t type anything in a blog you wouldn’t be willing to say in a meeting with your boss and their boss.
5. Don’t do this all by yourself. Encourage “guest columnists” and Talk to some Humans™ about your posts.
6. Be explicit about your goals, and don’t post material unless it helps you reach those goals. Unless it’s funny.
7. Sharpen the Saw…oops, that’s Covey’s seventh thing. Well, do that too. Take a college class to brush up on your skills. It will show!

Whether you blog, write to a file, or handwrite your thoughts, taking the time to write everyday can make a powerful difference in who you are, who you become, and what you’ll accomplish. Not only will your writing improve over time, but you’ll find stories about yourself that you had forgotten, as well as some great ideas for new ones. If you’re a speaker, you’ll be amazed at all of the “new” content that was already available in your very own head. Getting it out on paper will make it forever accessible, and set you up with topics to inspire audiences far and wide (disclaimer: your audiences may vary). Give it a 30-day trial run. Do 300 words a day for 30 days, and send me a note when you get there. I’d like to hear the results, and I’ll be glad to post your thoughts on my blog (it will save me some work).

Start with this line: I _________________ will write no less than _______ words per day for the next 30 days.

You can do it, human.

  1. Can I be a little bit of numbers 1 thru 5 and still be completely normal? I liked your article; you are absolutely right about the importance of writing for a speaker. Any speaker.

    One of the courses I train is public speaking for business. Mostly I’m dealing with folks that just need to run meetings, or give sales presentations, etc. In workshop after workshop, the students with the most trouble are the ones with poor writing skills, or those who want to skip the writing & just “wing it.” Invariably, their presentations are rambling and disjointed. Writing helps you learn to focus, so that you can present a cogent argument. Charisma and a natural way with words can only get you so far if there’s no logical flow. (A tough one for a lot of salespeople to learn.)

    At any rate, you already know my deal: I’m challenging myself to write a blog post every week day & actually publish to my blog at http://thecassandrafiles.wordpress.com So far, so good, but it’s only been a week. As a training specialist and instructional designer, I already write a lot of technical and business course-ware. Now my goal is simply to regain my skill with essay and creative writing. It’s for personal enjoyment, but I’m sure I’ll be better for it in the end.

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