Writing a Speech: 5 Minute Solution

Writing a Speech: 5 Minute Solution

Struggling to write that speech? 
Finish that essay? 
Complete that project?

Don't worry, I've been there. 
The best way to conquer procrastination is not to fight it, but to gradually seduce your way past it.

The best method I learned for overcoming procrastination is the 5-Minute Method (from the book SWITCH, by Chip and Dan Heath)

To fully explain this method, you first have to understand that the brain is split into two parts: the logical part and the emotional part. The logical part of your brain knows that its important to get your speech written, but the emotional part isn't willing to let go of the pleasures of surfing the Internet. Think of the emotional part of your brain as an elephant and the logical part of your brain as a rider. The rider (logic) is trying to control the elephant (emotion), but the elephant is much stronger than the rider.

The rider can not beat the elephant at a test of strength. It can not force the elephant to change it's lazy ways and take on enormous challenges. Instead, the rider must coax the elephant into starting the project, starting to prepare the speech, starting to write the essay...

What the 5 Minute Method does is that it convinces the elephant to start walking towards the goal. Let's say, for example, you have a very messy room. Looking at all the cleaning-up you have to do will probably turn-off the elephant. Instead, you can skilfully use the rider to seduce the elephant by saying: I'm going to set a timer for 5 minutes. I'll do as much work as I can. When the timer's up, I can stop if I like...

This method works perfectly because it shrinks the change. Instead of facing a daunting task of writing a completely new speech (or cleaning up your room), you now face a much more manageable task of just working for 5 minutes. 

The beauty of the 5 Minute Solution is that once you get the elephant moving in the right direction, it's much easier to get it to continue moving than it is to get it started. For example, after having written that first paragraph of your speech, you'll be more likely to continue writing the next few paragraphs; after having cleaned one corner of the room and seeing it spotless, you'll be much more likely to continue cleaning up.

Use the 5 Minute Solution to get your elephant started in the right direction; once you start, it'll be much easier to continue...

5 Minute Speech Writing Solution

  • Set the timer for 5 minutes
  • Write as much of your speech as possible (aim for at least one paragraph).
  • Within 5 minutes, your creative juices will start flowing and you'll be much more likely to finish off writing the speech...I should know, because it's how I started writing this blog-post :)Share