It is possible to prepare with the wrong goal in mind, resulting in a disorganized speech.
The kid in the picture is probably more likely to drown with so many encumbrances, when he could have just used a couple of floaties.
So what does it mean to be over-prepared, and why is it bad?
What causes over-preparation
Some topics are big. There are a lot of nuances and different aspects to cover. Many topics have built-in, easy to miss contradictions.
That becomes a problem when you’re writing your speech. It can be tempting to include too much information, too much material in your speeches. The longer you have to speak, the more you’re tempted to include.
You don’t realize it’s too much content, because you’ve studied the topic for a long time. As a result, it’s easier for you to process your speech mentally. But when the audience hears it for the first time, it’s overwhelming.
Why over-preparation is bad
Preparing too much and in the wrong ways can cause your speeches to be too complex. Complex speeches are not fun to listen to.
When you try to accomplish too much in one speech, you’re unlikely to accomplish anything. Watch this humorous video on how complexity can stifle functionality.
How to avoid over-preparation
1. Stick to around 3 main points
Even if you’re able to make more than three points, you may end up making the speech too confusing to handle. Three points is generally what people will remember.
You shouldn’t need more than three points to convince people to your side, if you’re doing a persuasive speech.
2. Cut content after you finish writing
After you’ve finished writing your speech, you need to go through it multiple times and cut anything that isn’t important or doesn’t fit the theme. That includes jokes that are somewhat funny but not really that good.
Focus on the parts of the speech that you absolutely love, because those are the lifeblood of it. If you need to fill a time requirement, then add in more content around those main points. Talk about less sub-topics, just reinforce those sub-topics with more content.
Here’s a practical example: remove a fourth point from your speech, and replace it with a story that illustrates your third point.
3. Practice on people unfamiliar with the topic
If all your preparation is in the writing stage, then you won’t have any insight into how potential audience members will take your speech. It is sometimes surprising how confusing a speech can be to people who aren’t familiar with the topic, even if you thought it was very clear.
Have a friend or family member listen to your speech, and ask them what they didn’t understand, or what jokes they didn’t find funny.
4. Finish what you started
If it took you a long time to write a speech, it can be hard to get yourself to spend significant time re-writing it. Don’t shortchange your speech by doing this! You can prepare your speech for hours, and still come out with a bad one if you aren’t willing to do the re-writing process and go through multiple drafts.
If you give your speech multiple times to different audiences, gauge their reactions to your speech. Figure out what was effective and what wasn’t, and then edit your speech again.
Don’t let over-preparation get the best of you–always simplify your speech!
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