Choose a Message, Not a Topic – the Need for Human CONNECTION!

Human Connection - Depositphotos_48247015_s-620x330

Don’t just write a speech on a topic that interests you this year.

Don’t just construct a 1AC.

That’s the wrong approach. It’s a slippery slope and you will be sliding in the wrong direction. Beware!

Here’s what I mean…

Human beings desire genuine community –  with God, with one another, and even with themselves. Language is the vehicle by which human connection takes place. Therefore, a speech has the potential to be so much more than a mere composition of words. A good speech will promote better connection and extend the great conversation of mankind. A purely technical attempt at speech writing will backfire. A meaningful speech has heart and soul.

Furthermore, because we are born to communicate, our instincts serve us well as listeners too. Good speech writers understand that their audiences will quickly discern when they are being conned or manipulated. Audiences, and judging panels, can sense when a speech is simply a contrived composition that merely meets event rules or fills the skeletal structure of an outline.

Just putting words together and delivering those words aloud does not a connection make!  In fact, we must take care that we do not create a dis-connection.

Here’s what Dananjaya Hettiarachchi, this year’s newly crowned World Champion of Public Speaking by Toastmaster’s International knows after years of competitive speech writing,

“Hettiarachchi says that a common mistake beginners make when crafting their speeches is by starting with a topic. Instead, he says you should begin with a message, and it should be as concise as possible. This message is whatever you want your audience to be thinking about when your presentation concludes.”

This champion speaker gives other helpful tips this month in a Business Insider Australia article by Richard Feloni. You can read it here:


So speech coaches, rather than ask our young speech writers, “What’s your speech topic this year?” we must help them discover what message they want or need to share. Debate coaches, we will be careful to do much more than help our debaters add definitions, clarify criteria, or re-tag “harms” in their constructives and merely argue point-for-point in their rebuttals.

All year long, we will remind one another to…

  • make a connection
  • put a face on the facts
  • tell a moving story
  • extend a conversation

Of course, each speech will contain structure and organization, and comply with all of your forensic league’s rules. But take time to reach down deep. Don’t forget the importance of your message just because you’ve chosen a topic.

We can’t wait to connect with you this year!