Somebody said to me the other day: “But how do you get the speech started?” From the desperation in the final word, I suspected that my interrogator had a speech assignment, had done the research, outlined an approach even if only mentally, and was having trouble launching a first draft.
That is the best advice.
Launch, jump, start, say anything, just get going. And keep going on this initial impulse until you have a hundred words or so.
Begin with your subject: whatever is suggested by the first of your index cards or the first entry on your outline. Say whatever comes into your head about that first entry. “The day we closed the Toonerville plant was the worst day in my life,” or “The day we shut the gates at Toonerville was a great relied for all of u,” or whatever. Don’t think about tact, or style, or clearances.
Begin as you begin a walk—not a marathon, not even a day hike—but as though you were walking to the store. Take off before you think too much.
As you write more speeches I think you learn to star where you should start, around paragraph nine or 10. For a long time you have to write those first nine useless paragraphs and later throw them away. It seems to me that after several years of this you learn to start at graph six, and only have three graphs to throw away before the real beginning. Eventually you learn to start at paragraph 10, and then you don’t have to write the first useless nine.
The ambitious young writer gets hung up because he or she is trying to write that real beginning, the tenth paragraph. Better they should write the nine; certainly easier, quicker, less painful. The boss will likely deliver these first useless nine (What does Honcho know about beginnings?) but there is rarely any harm in that.
In today’s world, not many books, or play, or movies, or TV dramas open crisply. All of us have to suffer the nine useless graphs. It won’t hurt Honcho’s audience to do the same for a while.