We recently celebrated my daughter's Bat Mitzvah and here is the process I went through to produce my short speech:

  • I did not make too big a deal out of the speech, it is not the State of the Union, I wanted to express my feelings to my daughter, and focus the attention of the entire crowd for a few minutes on her.
  • I created a digital notebook accessible from all my devices weeks in advance. Here I jotted down ideas: stories, memories, jokes, anecdotes, as they came along. It is hard to come up with ideas 24 hours before
  • About a week before the event, I wrote down a whole version, and put it away
  • A few days later during a bike ride a crafted an entire new story in my head, shorter, simpler, and less dry. Immediately after dismounting from the bike I wrote that one down.
  • I rehearsed a couple of time and created a short bullet point lay out of my talk that I could print in small font and hold in my hand. Important points are the key element of a paragraph (you can summarize those in 4 words if you have to), and lists ("what was that 3rd character trait again?")
  • During the speech i made sure that I was really "into the story" feeling the meaning of the words while saying them (i.e, not pressing play from memory and just recite text without processing what it means).
  • Instead of uttering "uhm", I tried to keep the composure and pause to form the next key idea in my mind before speaking it out.
  • And yes, I did not use slides!