Overcome Speech Writer’s Block

Demolishing speaking deadlines

How to Demolish Brick Walls

Do You Have Speech Writer’s Block?

You are hurtling towards a deadline. It looms like a brick wall. Somehow you have to deliver that presentation. But your mind’s a blank. You can only dream of speaking success. So how do you overcome your speech writer’s block?

You started to plan well ahead didn’t you? But the words aren’t coming together. Now’s not the time for daydreaming.

Or is it?

An impending deadline can have two different effects. It can cause the onset of panic. Headless chicken mode. Or it can force us to focus on the task in hand.

We gaze at that blank piece of paper but no words emerge. The dreaded speech writer’s block has us in its grip. How do we overcome it? Why not try a one-person brainstorm, mind-mapping or other techniques? Perhaps we now have random words but no pattern emerges. Sometimes, too much focus can lead to the mind going blank. The conscious mind that is.

How can we free our mind from clutter to allow that speech to be ready before the deadline?

Sleep On It!

Have you ever faced a seemingly intractable problem one day that has an obvious solution the following day?

The advice ‘to sleep on it’ actually works. Because, while we are asleep our unconscious mind continues to whirr away creatively to come up with a solution to the problem. Maybe even an idea for a speech.

In fact, we don’t necessarily have to take a nap; we can just let our minds wander for a while and often inspiration will strike.

“Nearly every major decision of my business career was, to some degree, the result of daydreaming. … By daydreaming I mean loose, unstructured thinking with no particular goal in mind.” 
So said Dov Frohman, Israeli electronics engineer, businessman, author and the inventor of the EPROM chip.

Of course, when we have an important presentation coming up, it’s difficult to persuade ourselves to sit and daydream. It feels like we are just wasting time. Perhaps a slightly different approach is required.

The Unconscious Us

Ever been driving along a familiar road and suddenly realised you have no recollection of the last few miles? That’s your unconscious mind in the driving seat. Don’t worry, it’s been driving well. Unlike you, it doesn’t nod off, it keeps whirring away without making much fuss. And it stores stuff that might come in useful. Like the way home. Or how to solve a problem, whether that’s the design for a computer chip or for your presentation.

Distraction Strategy

In her blog post, ‘A Crazy Girl’s Guide to Outsmarting Writer’s Block’, Henneke Duistermaat writes:

“Imagine waking up full of excitement.

The sun is shining, and you have a great idea for your next article.

If you write your article quickly, you can go out and enjoy the spring weather. Yay!

You brew a cup of your favorite tea. Then you switch on your computer and open up a new document in Microsoft Word.

And then …

Your excitement evaporates quickly.

The words don’t want to flow. You can’t even type a first sentence.”

Developing a speech can feel very much like that at times. Henneke goes on to say:

“Don’t try to work harder.

 Instead, take more breaks.

 Just like your body needs rest, your brain needs refuelling, too.

 Even a 5-minute break can re-energize your thinking, ignite your creativity, and motivate your writing.

 So be kind to yourself.”

A word of caution though. It’s important not to let this be an excuse for procrastination. And it’s a good idea to remove potential distractions, such as email notifications. The world won’t stop revolving if you don’t look at your emails for an hour or two. Why not just get some words down on paper, in whatever form you choose? After all, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s only the start of the process. We just want to start to move that brick wall and unblock our mind to let our creative juices flow.

Sprinting to Success

Henneke talks about five-minute breaks to help. Some people find it helpful to work in short sprints: say 15 or 20 minutes. The idea is to focus really hard for that short period and then take a break.

Most of us find it difficult to concentrate for long periods. So a short burst of creativity without allowing any distractions can be an effective way to work. However, if you find that the creative juices are still flowing when time’s up, why not sprint round a second lap?

If All Else Fails

Are you still struggling to put your speech together? To overcome your speech writer’s block? Why not Google your subject? Whatever it is, it’s unlikely that someone hasn’t written about it. What they say may not be entirely relevant but it may spark an idea for you.

You may even be able to lift a quote or a piece of information that you can use. As demonstrated above with Henneke’s article. Incidentally, she often uses other people’s writing to spark her work. So long as the original author is credited, it’s ethical. Just don’t nick ideas and claim them as your own. (Caution: not everything you read on the Internet is true!)

Dream to Overcome Speech Writer’s Block

Demolish that brick wall and get across the finish line before the deadline! Gazing into space and consciously daydreaming isn’t mandatory. Anything that distracts us from that deadline can help. Why not take the dog for a walk? Or clean the car? You could even mow the lawn or do the ironing. Work in short bursts to help focus on the task or search for inspiration on the Internet. If you can sleep on it, so much the better.

The beauty of utilising the daydreaming process for speech ‘writing’ is that it’s likely the key elements are already stored on the ‘hard disc’ in our heads, aka the unconscious mind. With a modicum of mental editing to tidy things up, we have our speech imprinted on our mind, so there’s little or no need for speech notes.

So there we have it. Speech writer’s block overcome. Brick wall demolished. Sweet dreams!

Overcome speech writer's block by daydreaming.

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