Masonic Talks – A handy guide on how to do it
By John Belton
I am not going to tell you how to choose a subject but how to deal effectively with all the information – and at the end to offer either an interesting talk or an article any editor is happy to print. Most ideas end up getting written down on paper so its good to start with some simple rules.
How long to speak for?
The golden rule is that one page of text in Word, in Times New Roman 12pt, is around 500 words – and 500 words takes 5 minutes to speak in English. If it takes you less than that you are speaking too fast J
It is a simple rule and I am always amazed just how many have never been told it. This applies equally to Professors in Universities (would you believe it!) or Brothers in their Lodges If a Lodge want a 15 minute talk then do not stand up with more than three pages.
The Story is IMPORTANT
Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. If it has not then your audience will not enjoy it properly. So the introduction needs to set the scene, then what follows already has a context that is understood. And sometimes it is hand to divide the text up with sub-headlines, even if it only helps you the author keep everything in the right order.
Remember where your evidence came from
This can be critical because usually in every audience there is some clever person whio will question one of your facts. Word makes this really easy - click ‘References’ and click ‘Footnote’ and write where you found your information. What I can guarantee is that you will eventually forget to do this and then discover that it takes you hours to find the page or date of your key evidence. Do it when you first write it and its only another 30 seconds.
Just discovered you have written too many words
Well join the club! It does indicate that you have hunted hard and found more information than you need. And you need to chop out those extra inessential words. Just stop moaning and do it. Just remember the old film adage of the ‘cutting room floor’. When a director shoots scenes he always gets too much footage, and it is no good presenting 3 hours of film when the cinema is want 90 minutes before the start to get the next audience ready to roll again. So just be a pro and do a good edit.
We all make mistakes, we mispeel, we forget the punctuation, and we all write nonsense. So print a copy out, take a red pen and mark up all the errors. Then enter all the corrections on the ‘Word’ original and save them.
John Belton is the author of A Questioning Eye On Freemasonry
A collection of fresh in-depth articles exploring the curiosities of Freemasonry
in their historical context and that of wider society.
Click Here for for information.
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