How to Use Freewriting to Develop Talking Points

Why do you need talking points?

Maybe you need to give a speech or a presentation. Maybe you just want to organize your thinking around a big topic so that if you have an impromptu conversation, you feel prepared.

It’s easier to hold a few talking points than to try to memorize an entire story verbatim.

When you know your talking points about an issue, it’s easy to speak with confidence and clarity. This in turn can make it easier to listen and receive the audience or the other person, since you won’t be as consumed by doubts such as “Did I say what I really wanted to?”

How to find your talking points about an issue

This exercise can help whether

  • you have a lot you want to say
  • you don’t know where to start or what to focus on
  • you’re totally drawing a blank. You don’t have much of an idea what you want to talk about at all.

Freewriting gets you to start where you are, to work with what you have.

That’s the magic: Just start right now.

Nothing outside of yourself needs to be any different for you to begin working towards what you want right now in this moment.

You can simply sit down and start writing. You have your general subject. That’s all you need.

Maybe you also feel the sense of something you are working towards. The goal, the end point. What you want. What you need. What isn’t working. A call to action. A series of plot points. A plan for where to go. Should you or shouldn’t you?

In any case, you can freewrite to develop talking points by holding in mind three facets of the topic you want to write about.

Hold these three elements in mind as you freewrite

You have three things:

  1. Where you are now. Who you are, how you feel, everything about this moment.
  2. Your topic, even if it’s blurry. If you’re stuck and blocked up, you can even think of your topic as the block. A topic does not need to appear like some constructive and healthy thing.
  3. Where you want to work towards, even if that’s blurry.

If you want, you can set a timed deadline. Twenty minutes, say.

Regardless, set a general goal for the session. What will feel like enough? Be willing to be a little flexible. Which would you like to prioritize?

You can hold yourself to your time deadline or you can hold yourself to the achievement/resolution deadline. Maybe you can quit in ten minutes if everything feels resolved. Maybe you’ll need to go a bit overtime if you are still wanting more. Or maybe your deadline is absolute and you commit to making the best of whatever you get in that timeframe.

A sense of urgency can be helpful because it can create a sense of now-ness and deadline that brings the procrastinator on board.

However, too much urgency is a constraint that will limit the flow.

What we’re aiming for is a sense of fire that will cook the pot of water, but not burn the house down.

What do to if you are too stressed to write?

Ironically the thing to do might be to use that energy elsewhere. Let it move. Go for a run or do something physical. Get a change of pace then come back. If you have twenty minutes, spend five in physical intensity. Then come back to the writing.

The physical activity can be helpful also if you’re feeling stuck and uninspired. Maybe you are facing an actual deadline and you still can’t get yourself to care. Well, moving your body is likely to help shift your focus to see what really is in your best interest. It will probably feel a lot better if you can just get through this bit of writing so you can achieve a bit more clarity and have some talking points isolated from the flow.

Once you have a sense for your topic, how you feel now, and where you want to go…

Write, focused on where you want to go. Periodically touch base with the other two points (your topic and what you’re feeling) and just flow.

If you come up with something great, that’s fine. Basically ignore what you write. We all understand that negative criticism can take you out of the flow, but the truth is, even positive appraisals can be a break to the flow.

Don’t stop. If you stop, you might be limiting what else can come. Even if you think you have reached the peak, it might be a false peak, only one step on the way to a greater realization. Keep at it until you really — really — feel that everything is all sorted out.

Then go back through and isolate what stands out. Develop a few bullet points. They should each be concise. Short, sweet, and dense.

Carry those talking points forward into your life. Really… carry that material. Turn it over in your mind. Feel the textures of it. Remember it. Hold those talking points and let everything else just be connective material that you might use if you need to have some. Otherwise, you have talking points, and you can be more spontaneous about how you move from one to the others.

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