Formula Speaker and Writer: Two That Changed My Life

When I was 17 years old, right before leaving for college (I turned 18 in October), I could barely get a word out when standing in front of a group. In fact, my shyness often kept me from speaking up in class, although I seldom had problems writing my thoughts down and sharing them that way. Rather than plan a talk out--like I do now--with main points fleshed out by personal story, I focused on writing/typing my entire speech out. In this blog entry, I'd like to share TWO formulas that have transformed my career. That's saying a lot, you know.

Ready to get the secret formulas?

Formula #1: The Magic Formula

As a teenager, most talks I gave were failures. My talks were boring, I had no sense of the audience, I couldn't feel the connection between the audience, and what I was saying.

Exasperated with me, my Dad shipped me off to Dale Carnegie's Human Relations Course one summer for 8 weeks, about 3.5 hours once a week. Another shy young man from India who coincidentally happened to be an acquaintance from the electronic bulletin boards (BBSs) we frequented also attended. It was a powerfully eye-opening experience for me since we were the only two teens in the room. The rest were men and women in business suits.

The Magic Formula is simple and easy to remember. You can remember it even when you are called on to deliver an impromptu talk. You can see the breakdown below and I'm so grateful to them for capturing it so well:


My notes on the formula are bare bones. I guarantee you that using the magic formula will make a difference. And, it will make a difference in every conversation you have. Here's what my bare bones notes on the process look like in its simplest form:

STEP 1:  Incident – What specific incident inspired the purpose surrounding of your topic?
STEP 2:  Action – What specific action do you want your listener/reader to take?
STEP 3:  Benefit – What specific benefits will your listeners/readers gain as a result of taking action?
Every few years, I revisit the Magic Formula. I learned it at the Dale Carnegie Institute and it's safe to say that it had a profound impact on my life. Although I haven't become known as THE speaker to hire for speaking engagements, I approach every presentation with the Magic Formula in mind. You can see what it looks like in the document above.

Formula #2: The List Article

As I read Dale Carnegie's The Magic Formula, it reminds me of another set of steps that have changed my life. That is, the List Article formula (you may want to read that blog entry linked). It is safe to say that "Writing the List Article" chapter that appeared in the back of a book, The Handbook for Magazine Writing, launched a new journey as a writer.

The author of that chapter in The Handbook for Magazine Writing shared that the list article is designed to solve problems, present information and otherwise help the reader. My interpretation of that formula looks like this:

  1. When writing an article for publication, I start out with an engaging question, quote, or scenario.
  2. A list of follow-up questions off the main topic (these are the ones that get answered)
  3. A short summary conclusion or make the conclusion the final question.

As I read the List Article formula I follow every time I write for publication, as well as the Magic Formula, I'm awed at their effect time and again. I hope you will find my restatement of them here useful.


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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