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‹ View all articles 11th March 2013

The Golden Thread approach to writing a great speech

TED Lessons

To write good content for your speech you need to be crystal clear about the message you're trying to get across to your audience. Here we look at the Golden Thread method for writing a great speech by constructing compelling speech content.

Simple and very powerful - this is the method we use to teach TED style speakers how to shine.

1) Find your Golden Thread

Imagine your speech as a journey along a road. You're taking your audience from one place, to another (hopefully better!) place. Imagine that this road symbolises a single narrative, a single thread that you are taking your audience along. This is The Golden Thread.

The speeches that audiences remember tend to follow this principle - they have a single thread that runs through the whole talk. Start your content writing by finding one crisp, single objective, a basic idea that you build around.

The Golden Thread principle is shown very clearly in TED Talks. "One idea worth sharing" is TED’s mantra. To find your Golden Thread you can ask yourself: "What's my one idea worth sharing?" (If you need help with this, we run a programme, "Speak Like a TED Talker" that's based around these principles.

2) Use the Golden Thread to edit your content

The Golden Thread helps you see what content to edit. Every point that you make should in some way by part of the Golden Thread journey if you want your content to have maximum clarity.

Find the Golden Thread and your audience are with you all the way - lose the thread and your content becomes a mass of information, rather than a powerful speech.

3) Add 'beads' to your thread

On this single golden thread you can think of having a series of beads. These beads will be the key moments in your talk. Your stories or key pieces of information with key ideas you want to hit throughout the route.

Pick the most vivid and memorable content out of all the things you could say and lose the boring bits. Great speech writing is all about evoking something in the minds of your audience.  Stimulate your audience’s senses; what they smell, think, see, hear. Be as vivid as possible. This will help your audience to enjoy and remember what you said.

4) Connect the dots

Rather than scripting a speech line by line, think of how you can connect each content bead together. If you focus on your beads and thread, you don't need to worry about exact wording - the main message will be clear.

Remember that your audience don't want a perfectly scripted speech, they want connection - so it's much more powerful if you connect with your content as you speak about it. Dive into a story and describe what's happening; show them what you can see, touch and taste. Show your passion.

This is the best content for a speech. The Golden Thread method allows you to be both clear in the direction of your content and spontaneous in the way that you describe it. Perfect!

 

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