Alexander shares his recipe for success – The message map

Alexander Van Steenberge won the club’s International Speech Contest. In this post, he shares his recipe for success.

The blank page is one of the greatest challenges faced by the creative person”  – John Hegarty [1].

You have decided to give a speech. You sit down at your desk and stare at the blank page in front of you. Chaotic ideas cross your mind, but you don’t know where and how to start. You feel struck.  Both the newbie and an experienced public speaker face this challenge.

I offer you a tool to help to get started – a compass so to speak – based on the concept of a message map [2]. I’ll explain what a message map is and apply this to my speech delivered at the club contest.

What is it? The message map is a visual display of your content on one single page and helps to keep your content clear and concise.

How does it look like? The message map template looks like this



How do you use it? As shown in the figure, you need to take three sequential steps:

 One: Create a Twitter-Friendly Headline

The headline is the one single overarching message that you want your audience to know at the end of your presentation. Without a clear message your speech will have minimal impact. If you cannot explain your message in 140 characters or less, go back to the drawing board. Once your message is clear and concise, you can move to the next step.

 Two: Support the Headline with Three Key Points

When you’re designing a presentation outline, include the three key points that support the overall theme.

 Three: Expand the Three Key Points

Add Stories, Statistics, and/or Examples to reinforce.

Don’t  write out the entire story ! Instead, write a few words that will prompt you to deliver the story. The entire message map must fit on one page.

Case Study : My speech for the Club Contest


I used this tool for my recent TM Fonske, International Speech Contest and won the first place.

In my experience this tool has saved me time while improving my speechwriting. I hope this tool can be your public speaking compass as well.


[1] John Hegarty, Hegarty on Creativity: There are No Rules, 2014

[2] Carmine Gallo , Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds


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