Donald Trump and Staying on Topic

Donald Trump gave a speech at a rally in Iowa the other day.  It was all over the place.  He talks about illegal immigration, his hair, Scott Walker, the negotiating skills of the Mexican government, the term “sanctuary city”, and his wife’s travel habits all in the first ten minutes.  I desperately searched for a common thread.  I found none.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Mr. Trump makes bare bones notes, and then trusts himself to just “speak from the heart” when delivering a speech.  Speaking from the heart is great, but it’s imperative to have a central theme to your speech, an organized argument, and a coherent, fluid delivery. This work requires an hour of preparation for each minute of speaking.  I’d say Mr. Trump was woefully under-prepared for this speech.

How can you stay on topic? Try theses hacks:

1) Find a Quote – Find a quote that perfectly encapsulates your speech, and return to it throughout the speech.   Be sure all of your data, supporting arguments, stories, contrasts and comparisons fit into the theme behind your quote.

2) Form a Work-Group – Get some colleagues in a room whom you trust to give you straightforward feedback.  Ask them to stop you if you get off topic.  Strike out the sections that are extraneous.

3) Craft your Closing First –  To stay on topic, you must know where you are going.  By crafting your closing first, you can sharpen your speech’s focus.