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How to write a speech that your audience remembers
Understand Yourself Better:
Big 5 Personality Test
Whether in a work meeting or at an investor panel, you might give a speech at some point. And no matter how excited you are about the opportunity, the experience can be nerve-wracking .
But feeling butterflies doesn’t mean you can’t give a great speech. With the proper preparation and a clear outline, apprehensive public speakers and natural wordsmiths alike can write and present a compelling message. Here’s how to write a good speech you’ll be proud to deliver.
What is good speech writing?
Good speech writing is the art of crafting words and ideas into a compelling, coherent, and memorable message that resonates with the audience. Here are some key elements of great speech writing:
- It begins with clearly understanding the speech's purpose and the audience it seeks to engage.
- A well-written speech clearly conveys its central message, ensuring that the audience understands and retains the key points.
- It is structured thoughtfully, with a captivating opening, a well-organized body, and a conclusion that reinforces the main message.
- Good speech writing embraces the power of engaging content, weaving in stories, examples, and relatable anecdotes to connect with the audience on both intellectual and emotional levels.
Ultimately, it is the combination of these elements, along with the authenticity and delivery of the speaker , that transforms words on a page into a powerful and impactful spoken narrative.
What makes a good speech?
A great speech includes several key qualities, but three fundamental elements make a speech truly effective:
Clarity and purpose
Remembering the audience, cohesive structure.
While other important factors make a speech a home run, these three elements are essential for writing an effective speech.
The main elements of a good speech
The main elements of a speech typically include:
- Introduction: The introduction sets the stage for your speech and grabs the audience's attention. It should include a hook or attention-grabbing opening, introduce the topic, and provide an overview of what will be covered.
- Opening/captivating statement: This is a strong statement that immediately engages the audience and creates curiosity about the speech topics.
- Thesis statement/central idea: The thesis statement or central idea is a concise statement that summarizes the main point or argument of your speech. It serves as a roadmap for the audience to understand what your speech is about.
- Body: The body of the speech is where you elaborate on your main points or arguments. Each point is typically supported by evidence, examples, statistics, or anecdotes. The body should be organized logically and coherently, with smooth transitions between the main points.
- Supporting evidence: This includes facts, data, research findings, expert opinions, or personal stories that support and strengthen your main points. Well-chosen and credible evidence enhances the persuasive power of your speech.
- Transitions: Transitions are phrases or statements that connect different parts of your speech, guiding the audience from one idea to the next. Effective transitions signal the shifts in topics or ideas and help maintain a smooth flow throughout the speech.
- Counterarguments and rebuttals (if applicable): If your speech involves addressing opposing viewpoints or counterarguments, you should acknowledge and address them. Presenting counterarguments makes your speech more persuasive and demonstrates critical thinking.
- Conclusion: The conclusion is the final part of your speech and should bring your message to a satisfying close. Summarize your main points, restate your thesis statement, and leave the audience with a memorable closing thought or call to action.
- Closing statement: This is the final statement that leaves a lasting impression and reinforces the main message of your speech. It can be a call to action, a thought-provoking question, a powerful quote, or a memorable anecdote.
- Delivery and presentation: How you deliver your speech is also an essential element to consider. Pay attention to your tone, body language, eye contact , voice modulation, and timing. Practice and rehearse your speech, and try using the 7-38-55 rule to ensure confident and effective delivery.
While the order and emphasis of these elements may vary depending on the type of speech and audience, these elements provide a framework for organizing and delivering a successful speech.
How to structure a good speech
You know what message you want to transmit, who you’re delivering it to, and even how you want to say it. But you need to know how to start, develop, and close a speech before writing it.
Think of a speech like an essay. It should have an introduction, conclusion, and body sections in between. This places ideas in a logical order that the audience can better understand and follow them. Learning how to make a speech with an outline gives your storytelling the scaffolding it needs to get its point across.
Here’s a general speech structure to guide your writing process:
- Explanation 1
- Explanation 2
- Explanation 3
How to write a compelling speech opener
Some research shows that engaged audiences pay attention for only 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Other estimates are even lower, citing that people stop listening intently in fewer than 10 minutes . If you make a good first impression at the beginning of your speech, you have a better chance of interesting your audience through the middle when attention spans fade.
Implementing the INTRO model can help grab and keep your audience’s attention as soon as you start speaking. This acronym stands for interest, need, timing, roadmap, and objectives, and it represents the key points you should hit in an opening.
Here’s what to include for each of these points:
- Interest : Introduce yourself or your topic concisely and speak with confidence . Write a compelling opening statement using relevant data or an anecdote that the audience can relate to.
- Needs : The audience is listening to you because they have something to learn. If you’re pitching a new app idea to a panel of investors, those potential partners want to discover more about your product and what they can earn from it. Read the room and gently remind them of the purpose of your speech.
- Timing : When appropriate, let your audience know how long you’ll speak. This lets listeners set expectations and keep tabs on their own attention span. If a weary audience member knows you’ll talk for 40 minutes, they can better manage their energy as that time goes on.
- Routemap : Give a brief overview of the three main points you’ll cover in your speech. If an audience member’s attention starts to drop off and they miss a few sentences, they can more easily get their bearings if they know the general outline of the presentation.
- Objectives : Tell the audience what you hope to achieve, encouraging them to listen to the end for the payout.
Writing the middle of a speech
The body of your speech is the most information-dense section. Facts, visual aids, PowerPoints — all this information meets an audience with a waning attention span. Sticking to the speech structure gives your message focus and keeps you from going off track, making everything you say as useful as possible.
Limit the middle of your speech to three points, and support them with no more than three explanations. Following this model organizes your thoughts and prevents you from offering more information than the audience can retain.
Using this section of the speech to make your presentation interactive can add interest and engage your audience. Try including a video or demonstration to break the monotony. A quick poll or survey also keeps the audience on their toes.
Wrapping the speech up
To you, restating your points at the end can feel repetitive and dull. You’ve practiced countless times and heard it all before. But repetition aids memory and learning , helping your audience retain what you’ve told them. Use your speech’s conclusion to summarize the main points with a few short sentences.
Try to end on a memorable note, like posing a motivational quote or a thoughtful question the audience can contemplate once they leave. In proposal or pitch-style speeches, consider landing on a call to action (CTA) that invites your audience to take the next step.
How to write a good speech
If public speaking gives you the jitters, you’re not alone. Roughly 80% of the population feels nervous before giving a speech, and another 10% percent experiences intense anxiety and sometimes even panic.
The fear of failure can cause procrastination and can cause you to put off your speechwriting process until the last minute. Finding the right words takes time and preparation, and if you’re already feeling nervous, starting from a blank page might seem even harder.
But putting in the effort despite your stress is worth it. Presenting a speech you worked hard on fosters authenticity and connects you to the subject matter, which can help your audience understand your points better. Human connection is all about honesty and vulnerability, and if you want to connect to the people you’re speaking to, they should see that in you.
1. Identify your objectives and target audience
Before diving into the writing process, find healthy coping strategies to help you stop worrying . Then you can define your speech’s purpose, think about your target audience, and start identifying your objectives. Here are some questions to ask yourself and ground your thinking :
- What purpose do I want my speech to achieve?
- What would it mean to me if I achieved the speech’s purpose?
- What audience am I writing for?
- What do I know about my audience?
- What values do I want to transmit?
- If the audience remembers one take-home message, what should it be?
- What do I want my audience to feel, think, or do after I finish speaking?
- What parts of my message could be confusing and require further explanation?
2. Know your audience
Understanding your audience is crucial for tailoring your speech effectively. Consider the demographics of your audience, their interests, and their expectations. For instance, if you're addressing a group of healthcare professionals, you'll want to use medical terminology and data that resonate with them. Conversely, if your audience is a group of young students, you'd adjust your content to be more relatable to their experiences and interests.
3. Choose a clear message
Your message should be the central idea that you want your audience to take away from your speech. Let's say you're giving a speech on climate change. Your clear message might be something like, "Individual actions can make a significant impact on mitigating climate change." Throughout your speech, all your points and examples should support this central message, reinforcing it for your audience.
4. Structure your speech
Organizing your speech properly keeps your audience engaged and helps them follow your ideas. The introduction should grab your audience's attention and introduce the topic. For example, if you're discussing space exploration, you could start with a fascinating fact about a recent space mission. In the body, you'd present your main points logically, such as the history of space exploration, its scientific significance, and future prospects. Finally, in the conclusion, you'd summarize your key points and reiterate the importance of space exploration in advancing human knowledge.
5. Use engaging content for clarity
Engaging content includes stories, anecdotes, statistics, and examples that illustrate your main points. For instance, if you're giving a speech about the importance of reading, you might share a personal story about how a particular book changed your perspective. You could also include statistics on the benefits of reading, such as improved cognitive abilities and empathy.
6. Maintain clarity and simplicity
It's essential to communicate your ideas clearly. Avoid using overly technical jargon or complex language that might confuse your audience. For example, if you're discussing a medical breakthrough with a non-medical audience, explain complex terms in simple, understandable language.
7. Practice and rehearse
Practice is key to delivering a great speech. Rehearse multiple times to refine your delivery, timing, and tone. Consider using a mirror or recording yourself to observe your body language and gestures. For instance, if you're giving a motivational speech, practice your gestures and expressions to convey enthusiasm and confidence.
8. Consider nonverbal communication
Your body language, tone of voice, and gestures should align with your message . If you're delivering a speech on leadership, maintain strong eye contact to convey authority and connection with your audience. A steady pace and varied tone can also enhance your speech's impact.
9. Engage your audience
Engaging your audience keeps them interested and attentive. Encourage interaction by asking thought-provoking questions or sharing relatable anecdotes. If you're giving a speech on teamwork, ask the audience to recall a time when teamwork led to a successful outcome, fostering engagement and connection.
10. Prepare for Q&A
Anticipate potential questions or objections your audience might have and prepare concise, well-informed responses. If you're delivering a speech on a controversial topic, such as healthcare reform, be ready to address common concerns, like the impact on healthcare costs or access to services, during the Q&A session.
By following these steps and incorporating examples that align with your specific speech topic and purpose, you can craft and deliver a compelling and impactful speech that resonates with your audience.
Tools for writing a great speech
There are several helpful tools available for speechwriting, both technological and communication-related. Here are a few examples:
- Word processing software: Tools like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or other word processors provide a user-friendly environment for writing and editing speeches. They offer features like spell-checking, grammar correction, formatting options, and easy revision tracking.
- Presentation software: Software such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides is useful when creating visual aids to accompany your speech. These tools allow you to create engaging slideshows with text, images, charts, and videos to enhance your presentation.
- Speechwriting Templates: Online platforms or software offer pre-designed templates specifically for speechwriting. These templates provide guidance on structuring your speech and may include prompts for different sections like introductions, main points, and conclusions.
- Rhetorical devices and figures of speech: Rhetorical tools such as metaphors, similes, alliteration, and parallelism can add impact and persuasion to your speech. Resources like books, websites, or academic papers detailing various rhetorical devices can help you incorporate them effectively.
- Speechwriting apps: Mobile apps designed specifically for speechwriting can be helpful in organizing your thoughts, creating outlines, and composing a speech. These apps often provide features like voice recording, note-taking, and virtual prompts to keep you on track.
- Grammar and style checkers: Online tools or plugins like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor help improve the clarity and readability of your speech by checking for grammar, spelling, and style errors. They provide suggestions for sentence structure, word choice, and overall tone.
- Thesaurus and dictionary: Online or offline resources such as thesauruses and dictionaries help expand your vocabulary and find alternative words or phrases to express your ideas more effectively. They can also clarify meanings or provide context for unfamiliar terms.
- Online speechwriting communities: Joining online forums or communities focused on speechwriting can be beneficial for getting feedback, sharing ideas, and learning from experienced speechwriters. It's an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and improve your public speaking skills through collaboration.
Remember, while these tools can assist in the speechwriting process, it's essential to use them thoughtfully and adapt them to your specific needs and style. The most important aspect of speechwriting remains the creativity, authenticity, and connection with your audience that you bring to your speech.
5 tips for writing a speech
Behind every great speech is an excellent idea and a speaker who refined it. But a successful speech is about more than the initial words on the page, and there are a few more things you can do to help it land.
Here are five more tips for writing and practicing your speech:
1. Structure first, write second
If you start the writing process before organizing your thoughts, you may have to re-order, cut, and scrap the sentences you worked hard on. Save yourself some time by using a speech structure, like the one above, to order your talking points first. This can also help you identify unclear points or moments that disrupt your flow.
2. Do your homework
Data strengthens your argument with a scientific edge. Research your topic with an eye for attention-grabbing statistics, or look for findings you can use to support each point. If you’re pitching a product or service, pull information from company metrics that demonstrate past or potential successes.
Audience members will likely have questions, so learn all talking points inside and out. If you tell investors that your product will provide 12% returns, for example, come prepared with projections that support that statement.
3. Sound like yourself
Memorable speakers have distinct voices. Think of Martin Luther King Jr’s urgent, inspiring timbre or Oprah’s empathetic, personal tone . Establish your voice — one that aligns with your personality and values — and stick with it. If you’re a motivational speaker, keep your tone upbeat to inspire your audience . If you’re the CEO of a startup, try sounding assured but approachable.
As you practice a speech, you become more confident , gain a better handle on the material, and learn the outline so well that unexpected questions are less likely to trip you up. Practice in front of a colleague or friend for honest feedback about what you could change, and speak in front of the mirror to tweak your nonverbal communication and body language .
5. Remember to breathe
When you’re stressed, you breathe more rapidly . It can be challenging to talk normally when you can’t regulate your breath. Before your presentation, try some mindful breathing exercises so that when the day comes, you already have strategies that will calm you down and remain present . This can also help you control your voice and avoid speaking too quickly.
How to ghostwrite a great speech for someone else
Ghostwriting a speech requires a unique set of skills, as you're essentially writing a piece that will be delivered by someone else. Here are some tips on how to effectively ghostwrite a speech:
- Understand the speaker's voice and style : Begin by thoroughly understanding the speaker's personality, speaking style, and preferences. This includes their tone, humor, and any personal anecdotes they may want to include.
- Interview the speaker : Have a detailed conversation with the speaker to gather information about their speech's purpose, target audience, key messages, and any specific points they want to emphasize. Ask for personal stories or examples they may want to include.
- Research thoroughly : Research the topic to ensure you have a strong foundation of knowledge. This helps you craft a well-informed and credible speech.
- Create an outline : Develop a clear outline that includes the introduction, main points, supporting evidence, and a conclusion. Share this outline with the speaker for their input and approval.
- Write in the speaker's voice : While crafting the speech, maintain the speaker's voice and style. Use language and phrasing that feel natural to them. If they have a particular way of expressing ideas, incorporate that into the speech.
- Craft a captivating opening : Begin the speech with a compelling opening that grabs the audience's attention. This could be a relevant quote, an interesting fact, a personal anecdote, or a thought-provoking question.
- Organize content logically : Ensure the speech flows logically, with each point building on the previous one. Use transitions to guide the audience from one idea to the next smoothly.
- Incorporate engaging stories and examples : Include anecdotes, stories, and real-life examples that illustrate key points and make the speech relatable and memorable.
- Edit and revise : Edit the speech carefully for clarity, grammar, and coherence. Ensure the speech is the right length and aligns with the speaker's time constraints.
- Seek feedback : Share drafts of the speech with the speaker for their feedback and revisions. They may have specific changes or additions they'd like to make.
- Practice delivery : If possible, work with the speaker on their delivery. Practice the speech together, allowing the speaker to become familiar with the content and your writing style.
- Maintain confidentiality : As a ghostwriter, it's essential to respect the confidentiality and anonymity of the work. Do not disclose that you wrote the speech unless you have the speaker's permission to do so.
- Be flexible : Be open to making changes and revisions as per the speaker's preferences. Your goal is to make them look good and effectively convey their message.
- Meet deadlines : Stick to agreed-upon deadlines for drafts and revisions. Punctuality and reliability are essential in ghostwriting.
- Provide support : Support the speaker during their preparation and rehearsal process. This can include helping with cue cards, speech notes, or any other materials they need.
Remember that successful ghostwriting is about capturing the essence of the speaker while delivering a well-structured and engaging speech. Collaboration, communication, and adaptability are key to achieving this.
Give your best speech yet
Learn how to make a speech that’ll hold an audience’s attention by structuring your thoughts and practicing frequently. Put the effort into writing and preparing your content, and aim to improve your breathing, eye contact , and body language as you practice. The more you work on your speech, the more confident you’ll become.
The energy you invest in writing an effective speech will help your audience remember and connect to every concept. Remember: some life-changing philosophies have come from good speeches, so give your words a chance to resonate with others. You might even change their thinking.
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Speechwriting 101: Writing an Effective Speech
Whether you are a communications pro or a human resources executive, the time will come when you will need to write a speech for yourself or someone else. when that time comes, your career may depend on your success..
J. Lyman MacInnis, a corporate coach, Toronto Star columnist, accounting executive and author of “ The Elements of Great Public Speaking ,” has seen careers stalled – even damaged – by a failure to communicate messages effectively before groups of people. On the flip side, solid speechwriting skills can help launch and sustain a successful career. What you need are forethought and methodical preparation.
Know Your Audience
Learn as much as possible about the audience and the event. This will help you target the insights, experience or knowledge you have that this group wants or needs:
- Why has the audience been brought together?
- What do the members of the audience have in common?
- How big an audience will it be?
- What do they know, and what do they need to know?
- Do they expect discussion about a specific subject and, if so, what?
- What is the audience’s attitude and knowledge about the subject of your talk?
- What is their attitude toward you as the speaker?
- Why are they interested in your topic?
Choose Your Core Message
If the core message is on target, you can do other things wrong. But if the message is wrong, it doesn’t matter what you put around it. To write the most effective speech, you should have significant knowledge about your topic, sincerely care about it and be eager to talk about it. Focus on a message that is relevant to the target audience, and remember: an audience wants opinion. If you offer too little substance, your audience will label you a lightweight. If you offer too many ideas, you make it difficult for them to know what’s important to you.
Research and Organize
Research until you drop. This is where you pick up the information, connect the ideas and arrive at the insights that make your talk fresh. You’ll have an easier time if you gather far more information than you need. Arrange your research and notes into general categories and leave space between them. Then go back and rearrange. Fit related pieces together like a puzzle.
Develop Structure to Deliver Your Message
First, consider whether your goal is to inform, persuade, motivate or entertain. Then outline your speech and fill in the details:
- Introduction – The early minutes of a talk are important to establish your credibility and likeability. Personal anecdotes often work well to get things started. This is also where you’ll outline your main points.
- Body – Get to the issues you’re there to address, limiting them to five points at most. Then bolster those few points with illustrations, evidence and anecdotes. Be passionate: your conviction can be as persuasive as the appeal of your ideas.
- Conclusion – Wrap up with feeling as well as fact. End with something upbeat that will inspire your listeners.
You want to leave the audience exhilarated, not drained. In our fast-paced age, 20-25 minutes is about as long as anyone will listen attentively to a speech. As you write and edit your speech, the general rule is to allow about 90 seconds for every double-spaced page of copy.
Spice it Up
Once you have the basic structure of your speech, it’s time to add variety and interest. Giving an audience exactly what it expects is like passing out sleeping pills. Remember that a speech is more like conversation than formal writing. Its phrasing is loose – but without the extremes of slang, the incomplete thoughts, the interruptions that flavor everyday speech.
- Give it rhythm. A good speech has pacing.
- Vary the sentence structure. Use short sentences. Use occasional long ones to keep the audience alert. Fragments are fine if used sparingly and for emphasis.
- Use the active voice and avoid passive sentences. Active forms of speech make your sentences more powerful.
- Repeat key words and points. Besides helping your audience remember something, repetition builds greater awareness of central points or the main theme.
- Ask rhetorical questions in a way that attracts your listeners’ attention.
- Personal experiences and anecdotes help bolster your points and help you connect with the audience.
- Use quotes. Good quotes work on several levels, forcing the audience to think. Make sure quotes are clearly attributed and said by someone your audience will probably recognize.
Be sure to use all of these devices sparingly in your speeches. If overused, the speech becomes exaggerated. Used with care, they will work well to move the speech along and help you deliver your message in an interesting, compelling way.
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What this handout is about
This handout will help you create an effective speech by establishing the purpose of your speech and making it easily understandable. It will also help you to analyze your audience and keep the audience interested.
What’s different about a speech?
Writing for public speaking isn’t so different from other types of writing. You want to engage your audience’s attention, convey your ideas in a logical manner and use reliable evidence to support your point. But the conditions for public speaking favor some writing qualities over others. When you write a speech, your audience is made up of listeners. They have only one chance to comprehend the information as you read it, so your speech must be well-organized and easily understood. In addition, the content of the speech and your delivery must fit the audience.
What’s your purpose?
People have gathered to hear you speak on a specific issue, and they expect to get something out of it immediately. And you, the speaker, hope to have an immediate effect on your audience. The purpose of your speech is to get the response you want. Most speeches invite audiences to react in one of three ways: feeling, thinking, or acting. For example, eulogies encourage emotional response from the audience; college lectures stimulate listeners to think about a topic from a different perspective; protest speeches in the Pit recommend actions the audience can take.
As you establish your purpose, ask yourself these questions:
- What do you want the audience to learn or do?
- If you are making an argument, why do you want them to agree with you?
- If they already agree with you, why are you giving the speech?
- How can your audience benefit from what you have to say?
If your purpose is to get a certain response from your audience, you must consider who they are (or who you’re pretending they are). If you can identify ways to connect with your listeners, you can make your speech interesting and useful.
As you think of ways to appeal to your audience, ask yourself:
- What do they have in common? Age? Interests? Ethnicity? Gender?
- Do they know as much about your topic as you, or will you be introducing them to new ideas?
- Why are these people listening to you? What are they looking for?
- What level of detail will be effective for them?
- What tone will be most effective in conveying your message?
- What might offend or alienate them?
For more help, see our handout on audience .
Creating an effective introduction
Get their attention, otherwise known as “the hook”.
Think about how you can relate to these listeners and get them to relate to you or your topic. Appealing to your audience on a personal level captures their attention and concern, increasing the chances of a successful speech. Speakers often begin with anecdotes to hook their audience’s attention. Other methods include presenting shocking statistics, asking direct questions of the audience, or enlisting audience participation.
Establish context and/or motive
Explain why your topic is important. Consider your purpose and how you came to speak to this audience. You may also want to connect the material to related or larger issues as well, especially those that may be important to your audience.
Get to the point
Tell your listeners your thesis right away and explain how you will support it. Don’t spend as much time developing your introductory paragraph and leading up to the thesis statement as you would in a research paper for a course. Moving from the intro into the body of the speech quickly will help keep your audience interested. You may be tempted to create suspense by keeping the audience guessing about your thesis until the end, then springing the implications of your discussion on them. But if you do so, they will most likely become bored or confused.
For more help, see our handout on introductions .
Making your speech easy to understand
Repeat crucial points and buzzwords.
Especially in longer speeches, it’s a good idea to keep reminding your audience of the main points you’ve made. For example, you could link an earlier main point or key term as you transition into or wrap up a new point. You could also address the relationship between earlier points and new points through discussion within a body paragraph. Using buzzwords or key terms throughout your paper is also a good idea. If your thesis says you’re going to expose unethical behavior of medical insurance companies, make sure the use of “ethics” recurs instead of switching to “immoral” or simply “wrong.” Repetition of key terms makes it easier for your audience to take in and connect information.
Incorporate previews and summaries into the speech
“I’m here today to talk to you about three issues that threaten our educational system: First, … Second, … Third,”
“I’ve talked to you today about such and such.”
These kinds of verbal cues permit the people in the audience to put together the pieces of your speech without thinking too hard, so they can spend more time paying attention to its content.
Use especially strong transitions
This will help your listeners see how new information relates to what they’ve heard so far. If you set up a counterargument in one paragraph so you can demolish it in the next, begin the demolition by saying something like,
“But this argument makes no sense when you consider that . . . .”
If you’re providing additional information to support your main point, you could say,
“Another fact that supports my main point is . . . .”
Helping your audience listen
Rely on shorter, simpler sentence structures.
Don’t get too complicated when you’re asking an audience to remember everything you say. Avoid using too many subordinate clauses, and place subjects and verbs close together.
The product, which was invented in 1908 by Orville Z. McGillicuddy in Des Moines, Iowa, and which was on store shelves approximately one year later, still sells well.
Easier to understand:
Orville Z. McGillicuddy invented the product in 1908 and introduced it into stores shortly afterward. Almost a century later, the product still sells well.
Limit pronoun use
Listeners may have a hard time remembering or figuring out what “it,” “they,” or “this” refers to. Be specific by using a key noun instead of unclear pronouns.
The U.S. government has failed to protect us from the scourge of so-called reality television, which exploits sex, violence, and petty conflict, and calls it human nature. This cannot continue.
Why the last sentence is unclear: “This” what? The government’s failure? Reality TV? Human nature?
The U.S. government has failed to protect us from the scourge of so-called reality television, which exploits sex, violence, and petty conflict, and calls it human nature. This failure cannot continue.
Keeping audience interest
Incorporate the rhetorical strategies of ethos, pathos, and logos.
When arguing a point, using ethos, pathos, and logos can help convince your audience to believe you and make your argument stronger. Ethos refers to an appeal to your audience by establishing your authenticity and trustworthiness as a speaker. If you employ pathos, you appeal to your audience’s emotions. Using logos includes the support of hard facts, statistics, and logical argumentation. The most effective speeches usually present a combination these rhetorical strategies.
Use statistics and quotations sparingly
Include only the most striking factual material to support your perspective, things that would likely stick in the listeners’ minds long after you’ve finished speaking. Otherwise, you run the risk of overwhelming your listeners with too much information.
Watch your tone
Be careful not to talk over the heads of your audience. On the other hand, don’t be condescending either. And as for grabbing their attention, yelling, cursing, using inappropriate humor, or brandishing a potentially offensive prop (say, autopsy photos) will only make the audience tune you out.
Creating an effective conclusion
Restate your main points, but don’t repeat them.
“I asked earlier why we should care about the rain forest. Now I hope it’s clear that . . .” “Remember how Mrs. Smith couldn’t afford her prescriptions? Under our plan, . . .”
Call to action
Speeches often close with an appeal to the audience to take action based on their new knowledge or understanding. If you do this, be sure the action you recommend is specific and realistic. For example, although your audience may not be able to affect foreign policy directly, they can vote or work for candidates whose foreign policy views they support. Relating the purpose of your speech to their lives not only creates a connection with your audience, but also reiterates the importance of your topic to them in particular or “the bigger picture.”
Practicing for effective presentation
Once you’ve completed a draft, read your speech to a friend or in front of a mirror. When you’ve finished reading, ask the following questions:
- Which pieces of information are clearest?
- Where did I connect with the audience?
- Where might listeners lose the thread of my argument or description?
- Where might listeners become bored?
- Where did I have trouble speaking clearly and/or emphatically?
- Did I stay within my time limit?
- Toastmasters International is a nonprofit group that provides communication and leadership training.
- Allyn & Bacon Publishing’s Essence of Public Speaking Series is an extensive treatment of speech writing and delivery, including books on using humor, motivating your audience, word choice and presentation.
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Boone, Louis E., David L. Kurtz, and Judy R. Block. 1997. Contemporary Business Communication . Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Ehrlich, Henry. 1994. Writing Effective Speeches . New York: Marlowe.
Lamb, Sandra E. 1998. How to Write It: A Complete Guide to Everything You’ll Ever Write . Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.
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The Art Of Writing Effective Speeches
Imagine that you have been asked to emcee at an event tomorrow. What’s the first thing you’re going to do?…
Imagine that you have been asked to emcee at an event tomorrow. What’s the first thing you’re going to do? You’re most likely going to write down your speech and rehearse it till you feel confident. You’ll probably think about ways to connect with the audience and adjust your speech accordingly.
Speech writing is more common than we realize. Whether it’s wedding vows or farewell speeches, there are many times when we find ourselves making a speech. Writing a speech is easier than it sounds. Read on to learn tips that will help you write impactful speeches.
What Is Speech Writing?
A speech is a form of formal spoken communication that an individual delivers with the proper choice of words, expressions and examples. Its purpose is to explain, inform or persuade others. Speech writing is the art of writing a message for an audience that can captivate and influence them.
Writing a speech is different from writing any other piece of written communication because you write to be heard and not to be read. Effective speech writing not only helps you connect with a large number of people, it also helps you direct them towards a particular agenda. The ability to write and deliver good speeches will help you at conferences, client meetings and even dinner parties!
If you feel that drafting a speech is an unusual activity, here are a few real-life examples of speech writing that will change your mind:
Employees often use PowerPoint presentations to get their message across—whether it’s about a new business strategy or new initiatives. They’re usually required to explain those slides so that the audience understands their points. Employees often draft a speech to communicate their ideas during such presentations.
Educational institutions often invite chief guests for graduation ceremonies, where the chief guest delivers a speech. Typically, these speeches are inspiring and filled with good wishes for the graduating students. Chief guests often read from a speech that they have drafted beforehand.
Techniques For Writing A Speech
Anybody can learn how to become a speechwriter—it’s a skill that can be developed with patience and persistence. Here are a few powerful strategies for writing compelling speeches:
Monitor Language And Style
Use language appropriate to your audience. Make your speeches interesting by including real-life examples and quotes. Avoid using complex words and jargon. Deliver your speech with appropriate nonverbal cues that help draw your audience in. For instance, use an even tone, pause when needed, maintain eye contact and stand straight without fidgeting.
Make Room For Questions
An effective way to liven up your speech is to ask your audience open-ended questions. Not only does it engage them but it also helps them remain focused. Prepare a set of relevant or related questions in advance. You may also conclude your speech with a thought-provoking question.
Pause At The Right Moments
A powerful pause adds impact to a sentence. When writing a speech, group your sentences into short paragraphs and use the paragraph breaks to take a pause. Don’t be afraid to wait for a few seconds before speaking again. The drop and rise in your voice as you begin speaking after a pause will help you emphasize key points.
Use The Power Of Three
Words and messages are best remembered in groups of three. Group your ideas into threes and use alliteration to make them memorable. An example is, “Live, laugh and love is the motto we live by.” The power of three makes speeches impactful.
Implement Dramatic Contrast
When you place two opposing ideas or viewpoints together, you create a dramatic contrast. This method is extremely useful if you want to surprise your audience and draw them into your speech. Here’s an example: “Five years ago, we had nothing, but look at us today! Our earnings have doubled every quarter and we have opened offices in five cities.”
Effective Tips For Speech Writing
Here are a few tips that will help you write effective and impactful speeches:
Write down the purpose or goal of the speech before you start drafting it and understand whether you’re trying to inspire, educate or entertain your audience
Your speech should be tailored to your audience so read the room before you include informal words or slangs
You don’t want to overwhelm your audience by speaking for too long so practice making your speech and time yourself
Make sure that there’s a beginning, a middle and an end, ensuring that you maintain continuity between the main ideas
Your opening is your best shot! Use humor or personal anecdotes to connect with the audience
Harappa Education’s Writing Proficiently course will teach you effective ways of writing your thoughts and ideas. The PREP (Point, Reasons, Example and Point) Model will help you structure your points. Discover how to tell your story in a way that will make everyone sit up and take notice.
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How to Write a Speech: Top Tips
Table of Contents
9 engaging speech writing tips, what are the different speech types , how to find help writing a speech.
A great speech is impactful and engaging. It should eloquently and clearly express your ideas.
Whatever the topic, a good speech should showcase your authority on a topic and demonstrate excellent communication and leadership skills.
Many people don't know how to write a speech, so the process seems daunting. But there are a few best practices and tips that can make the writing process easier.
In this article, we’ll discuss some best practices to help you write an effective speech that engages and captures your audience.
Public speaking can be nerve-racking. However, having a well-written speech can decrease some of that anxiety.
Even if you’ve never written a speech before, there are still best practices you can follow.
An engaging speech should be clear, to the point, and follow a logical order. But how do you ensure your speech follows these criteria? Follow these nine engaging speech writing tips.
Know Your Audience
Analyze your target audience to improve the effectiveness of your speech because different audiences will have different expectations.
Consider your audience’s age, level of understanding, attitudes, and what they expect to take away from your speech, then tailor your message accordingly.
For example, if your audience members are teenagers, it’s unlikely that references to the ’70s will be effective.
Start With a Clear Purpose
Decide on the main point of your speech, and make sure all your content supports that point. Choose a topic that fits the following criteria:
A topic that is relevant to your audience
A topic you’re excited about
A topic you have reasonable knowledge about
Organize Your Ideas
Use a speech outline to organize your thoughts and ideas logically.
Identify the introduction, body, and conclusion of your speech to help you stay focused and make your speech easier to follow.
Use Strong, Clear Language
Choose your words carefully, and use simple language that is easy to understand. Avoid jargon or technical terms that your audience may not be familiar with.
Again, your word choice will depend on your audience. For example, you’ll want to steer clear of slang when speaking to an older, conservative crowd.
Speech transitions are words and phrases that allow you to move smoothly from one point to another. Use transitional words and phrases like “besides” to help your audience follow your thought process and understand how your points are connected.
Add Variety to Speech
A speech that is monotonous or lacks variety may cause your audience to lose interest.
Including a variety of elements in your speech, such as anecdotes, examples, and visual aids, can help keep your audience engaged and interested.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice your speech out loud to ensure it flows well and you’re comfortable with the material. Read your speech in front of the mirror or before someone you trust to give you critical feedback. Note the points for improvement, and incorporate them into how you deliver your speech.
End With a Strong Conclusion
How would you like to leave your audience members: inspired, informed, or mesmerized? Aim to end your speech on a high note. Summarize your main points, and leave your audience with a memorable takeaway.
Edit and Revise
Proofread and revise your speech to ensure it’s well written and error free. Use a grammar checker, such as ProWritingAid, to correct any grammar issues. You’ll also get suggestions on how to improve your sentence structures and transitions.
How to Write a Good Speech Introduction
The introduction can make or break your speech. It’s where you grab your audience’s attention to keep them engaged and state the purpose of your speech.
An introduction also gives you the opportunity to establish your credibility. You should aim to give your audience a reason to listen to the rest of the speech rather than tuning out.
Here are some tips on how to create a positive first impression.
Start With a Hook
Begin your introduction with a hook that will grab your audience’s attention and make them want to listen. There are several options for a hook:
A personal anecdote
Reference to a current or historical event
When thinking of an attention grabber, consider how appropriate and relevant it is to your audience and the purpose of the speech. For example, if you’re giving a speech to an older audience, you can make a historical reference that they can easily relate to.
Provide context by giving your audience some background information about the topic of your speech. This will help them understand the importance of what you are talking about and why they should care.
State Your Thesis
Clearly and concisely state the main point or purpose of your speech. Your thesis should be easy to follow and clearly outline the main argument and your stance. This will give your audience a clear understanding of what they can expect to learn from your presentation.
Preview Your Main Points
Give your audience a sense of the structure of your speech by briefly outlining the key points or arguments you will be making. They’ll know what to expect, and your speech will be easier to follow.
Keep It Short
Your introduction should be concise and to the point, so don’t spend too much time on it. It’s important to keep your speech brief, and avoid including unnecessary or unrelated information.
The goal is to engage and interest your audience, not bore them, so aim for a few well-chosen words rather than a lengthy introduction. Aim for your introduction to be about 10-15% of the total length of your speech.
A speech is just like any other piece of writing. You’ll need to identify your purpose, audience, and intention and then write accordingly. There are many types of speeches, and each type has its own expectations.
Let’s look at some of the most popular speeches and how to write them.
How to Write a Short Speech
Short speeches may be the most tedious to write because of how condensed and concise the information has to be. However, if you ever have to give a farewell, birthday tribute, or just a quick welcome, there are still some tips available to make your speech great.
Start by identifying your topic, title, and the purpose of your speech, which will set the foundation of your outline. Then, determine the main points of your speech; keep it short with two to three points. Remember, a short speech is typically less than ten minutes long, so keep your points concise and to the point.
Since you have limited time to make the most impact, incorporate powerful words or other engaging elements. For example, you could throw out a thought-provoking question or anecdote, which will grab your audience’s attention and keep them engaged.
Finally, once you’ve written your speech, review it for brevity and clarity.
Be confident about grammar
Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.
How to Write a Presentation Speech
A presentation speech is used to inform, persuade, explain, or demonstrate a particular topic.
Presentation speeches are well structured and follow a logical flow. They have an introduction, body, and conclusion. Use transition words and phrases to help your speech flow smoothly and prevent it from appearing disjointed.
You can use ProWritingAid to organize your speech and make it even clearer. ProWritingAid’s transition report will show you whether you’re using transitions effectively in your speech.
How to Write a Debate Speech
A debate is a formal argument on a particular topic. Debate speeches are persuasive since the aim is to convince the audience to agree with a stance.
Like most other speeches, a debate speech also follows the introduction, body, conclusion outline. This format helps the audience follow the speaker’s point in a linear and logical way.
When writing your introduction, clarify your stance so it’s clear to the audience. Anyone reading or listening to your speech shouldn’t have any doubt about your position on the topic. Take some time to prepare a solid opener, which can be an interesting fact, a personal story, or even a powerful quote.
The introduction also gives you the opportunity to explain terms your audience will need to understand throughout the speech. You should also provide an overview of your main points, but don’t spend long divulging too much.
Each body paragraph should cover a main point, whether that’s a key idea or a main claim, and each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence. The topic sentence is an initial sentence that summarizes the idea being presented.
Your conclusion should be a simple and clear reiteration of the points you made in the thesis statement and body paragraphs. Add an attention-grabbing element to leave a lasting impression on your audience.
Remember to use strong and emotive language throughout your speech, which makes it more likely for your audience to feel emotionally connected to your stance.
Always use transition words and phrases to maintain a logical flow between your arguments. Finally, edit and proofread your work for any potential grammar, punctuation, or spelling mistakes.
How to Write an Elevator Speech
An elevator speech is a brief speech that’s used to pitch a product, service, expertise, or credentials.
You have 30–60 seconds to persuade someone to act how you’d like: the same time as a quick elevator ride.
An effective elevator speech should contain an introduction, a clear value proposition, and a strong conclusion.
Your introduction should be polite and clear. Briefly explain who you are, what you do, and what you are offering. For example, if you’re pitching your expertise, condense your background into two sentences. Include things that will make your audience remember you.
End your speech with what you want to achieve. What are you trying to accomplish with this speech? Perhaps it’s a job opportunity, a follow-up meeting, or an internship.
Once you’ve written your speech, be sure to revise it for brevity. Then practice and record yourself to ensure you don’t go over the time limit.
Writing a good speech takes time, but these tips are a good start to improving your speech-writing process. If you encounter writer’s block, look up popular speeches for inspiration. Ask someone you trust to give you feedback once you’ve written your speech.
Finally, while ProWritingAid can’t write your speech for you, it can help you write in a cohesive and logical manner. It highlights any grammar, spelling, and punctuation issues. It also shows you suggestions on how to improve your sentence structure, transition, pacing, and readability, so your next speech can be impactful and memorable.
Ashleigh Ferguson is a Copywriter on the ProWritingAid Team. With an affinity for learning new things, you can always count on her to know some random fact. She’s a self-proclaimed ‘Fix-it Felix’ and a newly minted ‘candle lady’.
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Effective Speech Writing
The Importance of Theme
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Writing speeches for graduation, class assignments, or other purposes consists of a lot more than finding a few inspirational quotes and possibly a funny story or two. The key to writing good speeches lies in using a theme. If you always refer back to this theme, the audience will respond positively and remember your words. This does not mean that inspirational quotes are not important, but they should be integrated into your speech in a way that makes sense.
Choosing a Theme
The first task that a public speaker needs to focus on before they do any actual writing is the message they are trying to convey. My inspiration for this idea came from the speeches of John F. Kennedy . In his Inaugural Speech , he chose to focus on freedom. He addressed many different topics, but always came back to this idea of liberty.
When asked to be the guest speaker at a National Honor Society induction recently, I decided to focus on how an individual's daily decisions add up to reveal that person's true character. We can not cheat in the small things and expect these blemishes to never surface. When the real tests in life occur, our character will not be able to withstand the pressure because we have not chosen the harder path all along. Why did I choose this as my theme? My audience consisted of Juniors and Seniors at the top of their respective classes. They had to meet stringent requirements in the areas of scholarship, community service, leadership, and character in order to be accepted into the organization. I wanted to leave them with one idea that might make them think twice.
How does this relate to you? First, you must decide who will make up your audience. In a graduation speech, you are addressing your fellow classmates. However, parents, grandparents, teachers and administrators will also be present. While you will be focusing on people your age, what you say must be in line with the dignity of the ceremony itself. Remembering that, think of the ONE thought with which you want to leave your audience. Why only one idea? Mainly because if you reinforce a single point instead of focusing on a number of different ideas, your audience will have a greater tendency to remember it. A speech does not lend itself to having many themes. Stick with one really good theme, and use each point you make, your theme reinforcers, to bring that idea home.
If you would like some ideas for possible themes, look at the world around you. What are people concerned about? If you are speaking about the state of education, find one central idea that you feel strongly about. Then return to that idea with each point you make. Write your individual points to reinforce your idea. To return to the graduation speech, check out these top ten themes to use when writing your speech.
Utilizing Theme Reinforcers
Theme reinforcers are simply the points that a speechwriter uses throughout his or her speech to "reinforce" the central idea they are trying to get across. In Winston Churchill's famous commencement address to Westminster College in 1946, we find him emphasizing over and over again the need for cooperation against tyranny and war. His speech covered serious problems with which the post-war world was faced, including what he termed as the "iron curtain" that had descended across the European continent. Many say that this speech was the beginning of the " cold war ." What we can learn from his address is the importance of continually reiterating one idea. The effect that this speech had on the world is almost incalculable.
On a more local note, I used the four requirements necessary to become a member of NHS as my four points. When I discussed scholarship, I returned to my idea of daily decisions and said that a student's attitude towards learning is increased positively with each personal decision to focus on the task at hand. If a student enters a class with the attitude that they want to learn what is being taught, then their efforts will shine forth in true learning. I continued in this vein for each of the other three requirements. Of course, this does not mean that throughout the speech the same words are repeated over and over. The hardest part of writing any speech is to approach the main theme from many different angles.
Wrapping it All Together
Once you've picked your theme and chosen the points you want to emphasize, putting the speech together is fairly simple. You can organize it first in outline form, remembering to return at the end of each point to the theme you are trying to get across. Numbering your points sometimes helps the audience remember where you are and how far you have left to travel before the climax of your speech. This climax is the most important part. It should be the last paragraph, and leave everyone with something to think about. One great way to bring your ideas home is to find a quote which aptly embodies your theme. As Jean Rostand said, "Certain brief sentences are peerless in their ability to give one the feeling that nothing remains to be said."
Quotes, Resources and an Unconventional Idea
Find great quotations and other speech writing resources . The tips found on many of these pages are awesome, especially the strategies for giving the speeches themselves. There are also many unconventional ideas that can be incorporated into speeches. A great example of this occurred during a graduation speech by a Valedictorian which incorporated music throughout. She picked three different songs to represent the students' elementary, middle, and high school years and played them softly while she went through memories for the class. Her theme was a celebration of life as it was, is, and will be. She ended with a song of hope and left students with the idea that there was a lot to look forward to in the future.
Speech writing is all about knowing your audience and addressing their concerns. Leave your audience with something about which to think. Include humor and inspirational quotes. But make sure that each of these are integrated into the whole. Study the great speeches of the past to find inspiration. The joy that you will feel when you have given a speech that has inspired people is amazing and worth the effort. Good luck!
Inspiring Speech Example
The following speech was delivered during an induction to the National Honor Society.
I am both honored and flattered to have been asked to speak for this wonderful occasion.
I congratulate each of you and your parents.
Your achievements in the realms of Scholarship, Leadership, Community Service, and Character are being honored here tonight by your induction into this prestigious society.
An honor such as this is a wonderful way for the school and community to recognize and celebrate the choices, and sometimes the sacrifices, you have made.
But I believe that what should make you and your parents the most proud is not the actual honor itself, but what you had to do to get it. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The reward of a thing well done is to have done it." Any recognition is just the icing on the cake, not to be expected but definitely to be enjoyed.
However, I challenge you not to rest on your laurels but to continue to strive towards even loftier goals.
The four requirements for membership in which you have excelled: scholarship, leadership, community service, and character were not chosen at random. They are the core of a fulfilled and fulfilling life.
The most important thing to remember is that each of these characteristics are the sum of many individual decisions. They embody a positive attitude backed by purpose. The only way to achieve your purpose is to take small actions everyday. In the end, they all add up. My hope for you is that you will cultivate this attitude backed by purpose in your own life.
Scholarship is much more than just getting straight A's. It is a life-long love of learning. In the end it is a sum of small choices. Each time you decide you WANT to learn something, the experience will be so rewarding that the next time becomes easier.
Soon learning becomes a habit. At that point, your desire to learn makes getting A's easier while taking the focus off of grades. The knowledge can still be hard to gain, but knowing you've mastered a difficult subject is an awesome reward. Suddenly the world around you becomes richer, full of learning opportunities.
Leadership is not about being elected or appointed to an office. The office does not teach someone how to be a leader. Leadership is an attitude cultivated over time.
Are you one to stand up for what you believe in and 'face the music' even when that music happens to be unpleasant? Do you have a purpose and follow that purpose to get the ends you desire? Do you have a vision? These are all questions that true leaders answer in the affirmative. But how do you become a leader?
Each small decision you make takes you one step closer. Remember the goal is not to get power, but to get your vision and your purpose across. Leaders without visions can be likened to driving in a strange town without a road map: you are going to wind up somewhere, it just might not be in the best part of town.
Many see community service as a means to an end. Some might see it as a way to get service points while socializing, while others may view it as an unfortunate (and often inconvenient) necessity of high school life. But is that true community service?
Once again true community service is an attitude. Are you doing it for the right reasons? I'm not saying there won't be Saturday mornings when you would rather sleep your heart out than paint your heart out.
What I'm talking about is that in the end, when it is all done, and you are once again well-rested, you can look back and realize that you did something worthwhile. That you helped your fellow man in some way. Remember as John Donne said, "No man is an island entire of himself."
If there is any one thing that is evidenced by your daily choices it is your character.
I truly believe what Thomas Macaulay said, "The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out."
What do you do when no one's around? The teacher steps out of the room for a moment while you are taking a test after school. You know exactly where in your notes the answer to question 23 is. Do you look? Minimal chance of being caught!
The answer to this question is the key to your true character.
For while being honest and honorable when others are watching is important, being true to yourself is tantamount.
And in the end, these private day-to-day decisions will eventually reveal your true character to the world.
All in all, are making the tough choices worth it?
While it would be easier to slide through life without a purpose, without a code, it would not be fulfilling. Only by setting difficult goals and achieving them can we find true self-worth.
One final thing, each person's goals are different, and what comes easy to one may be difficult for another. Therefore, do not squash others' dreams. This is a surefire way to know that you aren't working towards fulfilling your own.
In conclusion, I congratulate you for this honor. You are truly the best of the best. Enjoy yourself, and remember as Mother Teresa said, "Life is a promise; fulfill it."
- Memorable Graduation Speech Themes
- How to Give an Impromptu Speech
- 5 Tips on How to Write a Speech Essay
- How to Write a Graduation Speech as Valedictorian
- How to Write and Structure a Persuasive Speech
- Give a Speech People Remember
- Audience Analysis in Speech and Composition
- 50 Topics for Impromptu Student Speeches
- Focusing in Composition
- How to Speak Shakespearean Verse
- Topic In Composition and Speech
- Writers on Writing: The Art of Paragraphing
- Definition and Examples of Paragraphing in Essays
- Definition and Examples of Rhetorical Stance
- Understanding Organization in Composition and Speech
- How to Write a Good Thesis Statement
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How to write a good speech in 7 steps
By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 09-11-2022
- an easily followed format for writing a great speech
Did you know writing a speech doesn't have be an anxious, nail biting experience?
Unsure? Don't be.
You may have lived with the idea you were never good with words for a long time. Or perhaps giving speeches at school brought you out in cold sweats.
However learning how to write a speech is relatively straight forward when you learn to write out loud.
And that's the journey I am offering to take you on: step by step.
To learn quickly, go slow
Take all the time you need. This speech format has 7 steps, each building on the next.
Walk, rather than run, your way through all of them. Don't be tempted to rush. Familiarize yourself with the ideas. Try them out.
I know there are well-advertised short cuts and promises of 'write a speech in 5 minutes'. However in reality they only truly work for somebody who already has the basic foundations of speech writing in place.
The foundation of good speech writing
These steps are the backbone of sound speech preparation. Learn and follow them well at the outset and yes, given more experience and practice you could probably flick something together quickly. Like any skill, the more it's used, the easier it gets.
In the meantime...
Step 1: Begin with a speech overview or outline
Are you in a hurry? Without time to read a whole page? Grab ... The Quick How to Write a Speech Checklist And come back to get the details later.
- WHO you are writing your speech for (your target audience)
- WHY you are preparing this speech. What's the main purpose of your speech? Is it to inform or tell your audience about something? To teach them a new skill or demonstrate something? To persuade or to entertain? (See 4 types of speeches: informative, demonstrative, persuasive and special occasion or entertaining for more.) What do you want them to think, feel or do as a result of listening the speech?
- WHAT your speech is going to be about (its topic) - You'll want to have thought through your main points and have ranked them in order of importance. And have sorted the supporting research you need to make those points effectively.
- HOW much time you have for your speech eg. 3 minutes, 5 minutes... The amount of time you've been allocated dictates how much content you need. If you're unsure check this page: how many words per minute in a speech: a quick reference guide . You'll find estimates of the number of words required for 1 - 10 minute speeches by slow, medium and fast talkers.
Use an outline
The best way to make sure you deliver a perfect speech is to start by carefully completing a speech outline covering the essentials: WHO, WHY, WHAT and HOW.
Beginning to write without thinking your speech through is a bit like heading off on a journey not knowing why you're traveling or where you're going to end up. You can find yourself lost in a deep, dark, murky muddle of ideas very quickly!
Pulling together a speech overview or outline is a much safer option. It's the map you'll follow to get where you want to go.
Get a blank speech outline template to complete
Click the link to find out a whole lot more about preparing a speech outline . ☺ You'll also find a free printable blank speech outline template. I recommend using it!
Understanding speech construction
Before you begin to write, using your completed outline as a guide, let's briefly look at what you're aiming to prepare.
- an opening or introduction
- the body where the bulk of the information is given
- and an ending (or summary).
Imagine your speech as a sandwich
If you think of a speech as a sandwich you'll get the idea.
The opening and ending are the slices of bread holding the filling (the major points or the body of your speech) together.
You can build yourself a simple sandwich with one filling (one big idea) or you could go gourmet and add up to three or, even five. The choice is yours.
But whatever you choose to serve, as a good cook, you need to consider who is going to eat it! And that's your audience.
So let's find out who they are before we do anything else.
Step 2: Know who you are talking to
Understanding your audience.
Did you know a good speech is never written from the speaker's point of view? ( If you need to know more about why check out this page on building rapport .)
Begin with the most important idea/point on your outline.
Consider HOW you can explain (show, tell) that to your audience in the most effective way for them to easily understand it.
Writing from the audience's point of view
To help you write from an audience point of view, it's a good idea to identify either a real person or the type of person who is most likely to be listening to you.
Make sure you select someone who represents the "majority" of the people who will be in your audience. That is they are neither struggling to comprehend you at the bottom of your scale or light-years ahead at the top.
Now imagine they are sitting next to you eagerly waiting to hear what you're going to say. Give them a name, for example, Joe, to help make them real.
- How do I need to tailor my information to meet Joe's needs? For example, do you tell personal stories to illustrate your main points? Absolutely! Yes. This is a very powerful technique. (Click storytelling in speeches to find out more.)
- What type or level of language is right for Joe as well as my topic? For example if I use jargon (activity, industry or profession specific vocabulary) will it be understood?
Step 3: Writing as you speak
Writing oral language.
Write down what you want to say about your first main point as if you were talking directly to Joe.
If it helps, say it all out loud before you write it down and/or record it.
Use the information below as a guide
(Click to download The Characteristics of Spoken Language as a pdf.)
You do not have to write absolutely everything you're going to say down * but you do need to write down, or outline, the sequence of ideas to ensure they are logical and easily followed.
Remember too, to explain or illustrate your point with examples from your research.
( * Tip: If this is your first speech the safety net of having everything written down could be just what you need. It's easier to recover from a patch of jitters when you have a word by word manuscript than if you have either none, or a bare outline. Your call!)
Step 4: Checking tone and language
The focus of this step is re-working what you've done in Step 2 and 3.
You identified who you were talking to (Step 2) and in Step 3, wrote up your first main point. Is it right? Have you made yourself clear? Check it.
How well you complete this step depends on how well you understand the needs of the people who are going to listen to your speech.
Please do not assume because you know what you're talking about the person (Joe) you've chosen to represent your audience will too. Joe is not a mind-reader!
How to check what you've prepared
- Check the "tone" of your language . Is it right for the occasion, subject matter and your audience?
- Check the length of your sentences. You need short sentences. If they're too long or complicated you risk losing your listeners.
Check for jargon too. These are industry, activity or group exclusive words.
For instance take the phrase: authentic learning . This comes from teaching and refers to connecting lessons to the daily life of students. Authentic learning is learning that is relevant and meaningful for students. If you're not a teacher you may not understand the phrase.
The use of any vocabulary requiring insider knowledge needs to be thought through from the audience perspective. Jargon can close people out.
- Read what you've written out loud. If it flows naturally, in a logical manner, continue the process with your next main idea. If it doesn't, rework.
We use whole sentences and part ones, and we mix them up with asides or appeals e.g. "Did you get that? Of course you did. Right...Let's move it along. I was saying ..."
Click for more about the differences between spoken and written language .
And now repeat the process
Repeat this process for the remainder of your main ideas.
Because you've done the first one carefully, the rest should follow fairly easily.
Step 5: Use transitions
Providing links or transitions between main ideas.
Between each of your main ideas you need to provide a bridge or pathway for your audience. The clearer the pathway or bridge, the easier it is for them to make the transition from one idea to the next.
If your speech contains more than three main ideas and each is building on the last, then consider using a "catch-up" or summary as part of your transitions.
Is your speech being evaluated? Find out exactly what aspects you're being assessed on using this standard speech evaluation form
A link can be as simple as:
"We've explored one scenario for the ending of Block Buster 111, but let's consider another. This time..."
What follows this transition is the introduction of Main Idea Two.
Here's a summarizing link/transition example:
"We've ended Blockbuster 111 four ways so far. In the first, everybody died. In the second, everybody died BUT their ghosts remained to haunt the area. In the third, one villain died. His partner reformed and after a fight-out with the hero, they both strode off into the sunset, friends forever. In the fourth, the hero dies in a major battle but is reborn sometime in the future.
And now what about one more? What if nobody died? The fifth possibility..."
Go back through your main ideas checking the links. Remember Joe as you go. Try each transition or link out loud and really listen to yourself. Is it obvious? Easily followed?
Keep them if they are clear and concise.
For more about transitions (with examples) see Andrew Dlugan's excellent article, Speech Transitions: Magical words and Phrases .
Step 6: The end of your speech
The ideal ending is highly memorable . You want it to live on in the minds of your listeners long after your speech is finished. Often it combines a call to action with a summary of major points.
Example speech endings
Example 1: The desired outcome of a speech persuading people to vote for you in an upcoming election is that they get out there on voting day and do so. You can help that outcome along by calling them to register their support by signing a prepared pledge statement as they leave.
"We're agreed we want change. You can help us give it to you by signing this pledge statement as you leave. Be part of the change you want to see!
Example 2: The desired outcome is increased sales figures. The call to action is made urgent with the introduction of time specific incentives.
"You have three weeks from the time you leave this hall to make that dream family holiday in New Zealand yours. Can you do it? Will you do it? The kids will love it. Your wife will love it. Do it now!"
How to figure out the right call to action
A clue for working out what the most appropriate call to action might be, is to go back to your original purpose for giving the speech.
- Was it to motivate or inspire?
- Was it to persuade to a particular point of view?
- Was it to share specialist information?
- Was it to celebrate a person, a place, time or event?
Ask yourself what you want people to do as a result of having listened to your speech.
For more about ending speeches
Visit this page for more about how to end a speech effectively . You'll find two additional types of speech endings with examples.
Write and test
Write your ending and test it out loud. Try it out on a friend, or two. Is it good? Does it work?
Step 7: The introduction
Once you've got the filling (main ideas) the linking and the ending in place, it's time to focus on the introduction.
The introduction comes last as it's the most important part of your speech. This is the bit that either has people sitting up alert or slumped and waiting for you to end. It's the tone setter!
What makes a great speech opening?
Ideally you want an opening that makes listening to you the only thing the 'Joes' in the audience want to do.
You want them to forget they're hungry or that their chair is hard or that their bills need paying.
The way to do that is to capture their interest straight away. You do this with a "hook".
Hooks to catch your audience's attention
Hooks come in as many forms as there are speeches and audiences. Your task is work out what specific hook is needed to catch your audience.
Go back to the purpose. Why are you giving this speech?
Once you have your answer, consider your call to action. What do you want the audience to do, and, or take away, as a result of listening to you?
Next think about the imaginary or real person you wrote for when you were focusing on your main ideas.
Choosing the best hook
- Is it humor?
- Would shock tactics work?
- Is it a rhetorical question?
- Is it formality or informality?
- Is it an outline or overview of what you're going to cover, including the call to action?
- Or is it a mix of all these elements?
A hook example
Here's an example from a fictional political speech. The speaker is lobbying for votes. His audience are predominately workers whose future's are not secure.
"How's your imagination this morning? Good? (Pause for response from audience) Great, I'm glad. Because we're going to put it to work starting right now.
I want you to see your future. What does it look like? Are you happy? Is everything as you want it to be? No? Let's change that. We could do it. And we could do it today.
At the end of this speech you're going to be given the opportunity to change your world, for a better one ...
No, I'm not a magician. Or a simpleton with big ideas and precious little commonsense. I'm an ordinary man, just like you. And I have a plan to share!"
And then our speaker is off into his main points supported by examples. The end, which he has already foreshadowed in his opening, is the call to vote for him.
Prepare several hooks
Experiment with several openings until you've found the one that serves your audience, your subject matter and your purpose best.
For many more examples of speech openings go to: how to write a speech introduction . You'll find 12 of the very best ways to start a speech.
That completes the initial seven steps towards writing your speech. If you've followed them all the way through, congratulations, you now have the text of your speech!
Although you might have the words, you're still a couple of steps away from being ready to deliver them. Both of them are essential if you want the very best outcome possible. They are below. Please take them.
Step 8: Checking content and timing
This step pulls everything together.
Check once, check twice, check three times & then once more!
Go through your speech really carefully.
On the first read through check you've got your main points in their correct order with supporting material, plus an effective introduction and ending.
On the second read through check the linking passages or transitions making sure they are clear and easily followed.
On the third reading check your sentence structure, language use and tone.
Double, triple check the timing
Now go though once more.
This time read it aloud slowly and time yourself.
If it's too long for the time allowance you've been given make the necessary cuts.
Start by looking at your examples rather than the main ideas themselves. If you've used several examples to illustrate one principal idea, cut the least important out.
Also look to see if you've repeated yourself unnecessarily or, gone off track. If it's not relevant, cut it.
Repeat the process, condensing until your speech fits the required length, preferably coming in just under your time limit.
You can also find out how approximately long it will take you to say the words you have by using this very handy words to minutes converter . It's an excellent tool, one I frequently use. While it can't give you a precise time, it does provide a reasonable estimate.
Step 9: Rehearsing your speech
And NOW you are finished with writing the speech, and are ready for REHEARSAL .
Please don't be tempted to skip this step. It is not an extra thrown in for good measure. It's essential.
The "not-so-secret" secret of successful speeches combines good writing with practice, practice and then, practicing some more.
Go to how to practice public speaking and you'll find rehearsal techniques and suggestions to boost your speech delivery from ordinary to extraordinary.
The Quick How to Write a Speech Checklist
Before you begin writing you need:.
- Your speech OUTLINE with your main ideas ranked in the order you're going to present them. (If you haven't done one complete this 4 step sample speech outline . It will make the writing process much easier.)
- Your RESEARCH
- You also need to know WHO you're speaking to, the PURPOSE of the speech and HOW long you're speaking for
The basic format
- the body where you present your main ideas
Split your time allowance so that you spend approximately 70% on the body and 15% each on the introduction and ending.
How to write the speech
- Write your main ideas out incorporating your examples and research
- Link them together making sure each flows in a smooth, logical progression
- Write your ending, summarizing your main ideas briefly and end with a call for action
- Write your introduction considering the 'hook' you're going to use to get your audience listening
- An often quoted saying to explain the process is: Tell them what you're going to tell them (Introduction) Tell them (Body of your speech - the main ideas plus examples) Tell them what you told them (The ending)
TEST before presenting. Read aloud several times to check the flow of material, the suitability of language and the timing.
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How to Write a Speech
Last Updated: June 13, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Patrick Muñoz . Patrick is an internationally recognized Voice & Speech Coach, focusing on public speaking, vocal power, accent and dialects, accent reduction, voiceover, acting and speech therapy. He has worked with clients such as Penelope Cruz, Eva Longoria, and Roselyn Sanchez. He was voted LA's Favorite Voice and Dialect Coach by BACKSTAGE, is the voice and speech coach for Disney and Turner Classic Movies, and is a member of Voice and Speech Trainers Association. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 2,959,035 times.
Giving an original speech for a class, event, or work presentation can be nerve-wracking. However, writing an effective speech can help to bolster your confidence. With careful planning and an eye for detail, you can write a speech that will inform, persuade, motivate, or entertain! Give yourself plenty of time to craft your speech and practice it several times for best results.
Drafting an Effective Speech
- If you are writing a speech for a class, make sure to check with your teacher to get details about the number and acceptable types of sources.
- If you are writing an informative or persuasive speech, then plan to arrange your speech with a problem and solution structure. Start the speech by talking about what is wrong, then explain how to fix the problem in the second half of your speech.  X Research source
Tip : Keep in mind that you can always refine your outline later or as you draft your speech. Include all of the information that seems relevant now with the expectation that you will likely need to pare it down later.
- For example, if you are writing a motivational speech about weight loss, then you might say something like, “Five years ago, I could not walk up a flight of stairs without needing to take a break halfway up.”
- If you hope to persuade audience members to reduce their use of fossil fuels, then you might start off by saying, “Gas-powered vehicles are the reason why global warming is threatening to destroy our planet.”
- For example, if you are giving a speech on increasing funding for Alzheimer’s research, it would be helpful to provide information on how common Alzheimer’s disease is and how it affects families. You could accomplish this with a combination of a statistic and an anecdote.
Tip: Keep your introduction less than 1 paragraph or 1 double-spaced page long. This will help to ensure that you do not spend too much time on the context and background before getting to the meat of your topic.  X Research source
- For example, in a speech about ending animal testing for cosmetics, you might start with a point about how animal testing is cruel, then explain that it is unnecessary, and then talk about the alternatives to animal testing that make it obsolete.
- For example, if you are about to cover the concept of delayed onset muscle soreness (also known as DOMS), then explain what it is in a nutshell first, then go into more detail about it and how it relates to your point, then end that section of your speech with a brief summary of the main point you are trying to make.
- In that moment
- The following week
- For example, if you have just described the effects of global warming on the polar bear population, conclude your speech by telling your audience about non-profit organizations that are working to protect the environment and the polar bear population.
- If you have just shared your weight loss story to motivate your audience, tell them what they can do to start their own weight loss journey and share resources that you found helpful.
Making Your Speech More Engaging
- For example, instead of saying, “Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is the pinnacle of human existence because it enables you to accomplish physical feats that boost your confidence and give you a sense of accomplishment,” say, “A healthy body weight allows you to do more physically, and this may make you happier overall.”
- Keep in mind that it is also important to vary your sentence structure. You can include a longer sentence once or twice per page to add variety to your speech. Just avoid using lots of long sentences in your speech.  X Research source
- For example, if you are giving a speech for a group of sales associates who are trying to increase sales of a new product called “Synergy,” then you might repeat a simple phrase to that effect, such as “Tell your customers about Synergy,” or you could simply say, “Synergy” a few times during your speech to remind your audience of this product.
- If you are writing a motivational speech about how running can help people to overcome emotional hurdles, then you might repeat a phrase in your speech to emphasize this idea, such as, “Run through the pain.”
- For example, if you are giving a speech about moose mating patterns, 2 numbers that show the decline in the moose population over a 50 year period may be a striking addition to your speech. However, sharing a complex set of moose population statistics would be less compelling and possibly even confusing to your audience.
- Choose quotes that are easy to follow and make sure that you explain how each quote you use supports to your argument. Try to stick with quotes that use simple language and take up no more than 2 lines on your page.
- For example, when describing your love of food in a motivational speech about becoming a chef, you might decide to include a joke and say something like, “I always wanted to become a chef, ever since I was a little kid and I discovered that people actually make donuts and they don’t just randomly fall from the sky.”
- Avoid relying on the slides to make the speech for you. You will still need to deliver your speech in an engaging manner. Only use the slides as a complement to your words.
- Make sure to read your speech out loud when you review it! This will help you to determine if it sounds natural and if there are any awkward sections that you can cut, smooth out, or explain more clearly.  X Research source
You Might Also Like
- ↑ http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/speech/tips.htm
- ↑ Patrick Muñoz. Voice & Speech Coach. Expert Interview. 12 November 2019.
- ↑ https://www.write-out-loud.com/howtowritespeech.html
- ↑ https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/7-sensational-essay-hooks/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/speeches/
- ↑ https://www.unr.edu/writing-speaking-center/student-resources/writing-speaking-resources/speech-introductions
- ↑ https://pac.org/content/speechwriting-101-writing-effective-speech
About This Article
To write a speech, start off with an attention-grabbing statement, like "Before I begin my speech, I have something important to say." Once you've gotten everyone's attention, move on to your strongest argument or point first since that's what audiences will remember the most. Use transitions throughout your speech, like "This brings us back to the bigger picture," so the audience doesn't get lost. To conclude your speech, restate the key points and leave your audience with a question or something to think about. To learn how to edit your first draft, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Grow » thrive, 7 steps to writing a great speech.
These seven steps will help you write a memorable and effective speech.
If you’re preparing for a presentation, the work really begins when you sit down to write your speech. A great speech will engage the audience and can lead to greater personal and professional success. Here are seven steps to writing an effective speech.
Know what your core message is
When preparing to write a speech, you want to start by thinking about the core message you want to share. Your core message should be a topic you’re knowledgeable and passionate about and one that’s relevant to your audience.
The topic should be delivered in a way that’s easy to understand and concise. Ideally, your audience should be able to explain what the speech was about in just one or two sentences.
Think about your audience
Next, you want to learn as much as possible about your audience because this will inform how you deliver the speech. The language you use and the examples you share will depend on the audience you’re speaking to.
As you learn more about your audience, you want to consider the circumstances that brought them together. Are they gathering for a business conference, or is it for a charity event? How big will the audience be, and how knowledgeable are they about the subject you’re speaking on?
[Read more: How to Give a Great Presentation ]
Do your research
The amount of research you complete will depend on how familiar you are with your topic. But even if it’s a topic you know inside and out, it’s a good idea to do at least some research. This will help you gather new information and come up with unique and fresh ideas.
The amount of research you complete will depend on how familiar you are with your topic. But even if it’s a topic you know inside and out, it’s a good idea to do at least some research.
Come up with an outline
Now it’s time to organize your information and ideas into a detailed outline. Organizing your information will make it easier once it’s time to sit down and write the speech. Your outline should include three main parts:
- Introduction : The introduction sets the stage for the information you’ll be sharing. It’s a good idea to start with a story that will catch your audience’s attention. From there, you can outline what you’ll be sharing and the conclusion you’ll reach.
- Body : The body of your speech is where you’ll highlight the overarching points you’re trying to make. But be careful not to throw too much information at your audience — two to three main points are enough.
- Conclusion : During the conclusion, you’ll summarize your core message and what the audience should take away from the speech. Look for ways to end your speech on a strong note, so the audience understands why this topic matters and how they can take action.
Write a draft
Once you have an outline, you can begin drafting your speech. Don’t try to make your speech perfect during the drafting stage — just try to get your ideas on paper. You can come back to revise and improve your speech later.
Choose a presentation tool
If you’re speaking in a professional setting, you’ll likely want to compliment your speech with a presentation tool like PowerPoint. Using a slide deck is a great way to add a visual element to your speech that will further engage the audience. Using a template can make it easier to develop a well-designed slide deck.
[Read more: 6 Business Presentation Tools for Small Businesses ]
Practice and revise
Great speeches take time to write, so you should plan to practice and revise your speech as needed. You can practice your speech in front of a friend or family member, ask for their feedback, and then adjust your speech accordingly.
As you’re revising, focus on using conversational language and short sentences. Look for any areas that are too general or vague, and try to come up with specific examples that will back up your core message.
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- 11 Tips for Giving a Great Speech
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Chances are you’ll be asked to give speeches or presentations in classes at school. If you get involved in volunteer groups, brief speeches to open events or thank participants are a must. Then there are the speeches at events such as weddings, as well as speeches that you might have to give in the workplace. That amounts to the average person being required to give quite a lot of speeches, even if they don’t get involved in an area such as politics where the ability to give a good speech becomes even more important. You might also have suffered through quite a number of bad speeches from other people – whether that’s at family events where the microphone squeaks the whole way through or a school presentation where the headteacher can’t quite make the jokes work. If you don’t want to inflict the same sort of experience on others, here are our top tips for giving a great speech.
1. Practise your microphone technique
2. Keep it short
Particularly at something like a party or a wedding, no one will be unhappy if your speech runs a little short; it’ll just give them more time to investigate the canapés. If you are giving a speech for a class in school, and it’ll be assessed, you need to prioritise keeping it within the required time limits. But even under these circumstances, if you’ve been tasked – say – with giving a 10-15 minute speech, it’s usually better to come in nearer the 10 than the 15 minute mark. Put simply, even if your speech is terrible, your audience can probably tolerate it for 10 minutes. Much longer, and they’ll be struggling. This shouldn’t limit what you can cover; in the film Up , the whole of Carl and Ellie’s heartbreaking love story is told in under 12 minutes. Do you really need longer to make your points? Achieve brevity by writing out the speech you would give if you had all the time in the world, and then cut anything that seems extraneous or boring.
3. Consider what your audience wants to hear
If you are giving a speech in class because it’s your assignment, what your audience wants to hear is likely to be “the bell ringing for lunch”; you can’t help them there. But under other circumstances, consider what your audience wants to hear and what you want to say, and strive for there to be as much overlap as possible. In the context of a political speech, for instance, what you want to say might be why your party should receive votes; what your audience wants to hear is what your party would do for them, if they won power. Hopefully it should be possible to write a speech that meets both sets of needs, rather than focusing solely on whatever it is that you want to say and leaving your audience disappointed.
4. Pick a theme and stick to it
Here’s a goal for giving a speech: someone sitting near the back, who’s messing around on their phone for at least two-thirds of it and focusing mainly on how long it will be until lunch, should nonetheless be able to give a reasonably accurate answer to the question, “what was it about?” If you’re supposed to be giving a speech in defence of the nuclear deterrent, for example, both the topic and your position on it should be clearly identifiable. This means – to stick with the nuclear deterrent example – not talking for a while about jobs, and then the wider economy, and then the North-South divide, and then Scottish independence, and then Ukraine with a brief digression into South Ossetia before rounding off by squeaking out “and that’s why we should renew Trident!” seconds before you run out of time – no matter how relevant that cornucopia of topics may feel (and they are all relevant, albeit tenuously). It means that even if you do have to take a while to explain a more complex idea, you need to be concise, and bring it back to your theme as quickly as you can.
5. Speak slowly
Most people speak more quickly than they realise when they’re on stage, especially if they’re nervous. But no one will be able to follow your speech if you’re jabbering it out. Thankfully, this one is easy to fix with a little effort and practise. First of all, figure out how quickly you’re actually speaking: do a word count for your speech and then time yourself saying it. A fast speaker will speak at maybe 160 words per minute, a slow speaker at 100 wpm and an average speaker at 130 wpm. For a formal speech, you want to be speaking on the slow side. While this will vary by culture and environment, 120 wpm is a reasonable target to aim for; slow enough that everyone should be able to understand you, and fast enough that you hopefully won’t be sending them to sleep.
6. Tell a couple of jokes
This is a tricky tip because there are lots of pitfalls in the world of telling jokes. For instance, there’s the temptation to include an in-joke that three of your friends will understand and find hilarious, that is utterly baffling to everyone else in the room. Avoid this – if you include any jokes, witty references or anything along those lines, make sure they are accessible to everyone present. All the same, if you can manage a joke or two, it can be a useful way to break up a speech and retain the audience’s interest. A little self-deprecation (not too much!) or the use of classic joke formats such as “the scene was chaotic; it looked as if a bomb had hit and we didn’t know where to start on repairs – but that’s enough about the hen party…” work nicely even if you’re not very confident. Don’t turn it into a stand-up comedy sketch if you’re not a comedian, don’t wait for ages for laughter that’s not showing up, and don’t make jokes at the expense of anyone who you don’t know for sure can take it.
7. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself if you need to
If you follow US or UK politics at all, you’ve probably heard some of these phrases recently: take back control, make America great again, long-term economic plan, son of a bus driver. Three of these have already led the party or people they’re associated with to electoral victory; the fourth remains to be seen. To take the ‘son of a bus driver’ as an example, this refers to Sadiq Khan, now Mayor of London. There can be hardly anyone in London who doesn’t know what their Mayor’s dad did for a living. Meanwhile, many of them probably can’t remember his rival Zac Goldsmith’s name, let alone anything he said during the campaign. The point is that repetition works. In pursuit of point 4, if you want people to remember your key theme, you’re going to have to say it more than once. Don’t assume that everyone will have paid attention to everything you’ve said, unless you’re in a classroom setting where they’ll get told off if they don’t.
8. Only use the visual aids you need
This tip applies to two things: PowerPoints and notes. If you can do without either (and your assignment allows it), then do. Every time you’re glancing over your notes or up at the screen, fiddling with the laptop to get the slide to move on, fighting with a video that isn’t working or struggling to read your own handwriting, is time that you’re not spending engaging with your audience. A well-written, clear speech delivered without notes is always going to be better than someone awkwardly reading aloud the bullet points on their PowerPoint slides. If you must do a presentation – for instance, because there are photos that need to be included – have as little text on it as possible, preferably none. That way, if there are people at the back who can’t really see the screen through the sea of heads in front of them, they’ll still be able to follow what you’re saying.
9. Get a friend to check for awkward mannerisms
Mannerisms that are entirely fine in normal life become awkward and strange when you’re speaking in public. Perhaps you’re inclined to fiddle with your hair or your cuffs, you rock back and forth on the balls of your feet, or you have a habit of reaching your hand to your cheek when you’re talking. No one would notice in everyday conversation, but when you’re on a stage, it’ll become all they’ll see. Some of this is easily avoidable – for instance, if you have long hair that you’re inclined to twirl or otherwise fiddle with, tie it up. For other mannerisms, get the critical friend who helped you sort out your microphone technique to tell you what they are, and do your best to suppress the more annoying ones.
10. Look around the room
Talking about eye contact usually has the effect of making normal eye contact a lot harder, and so does giving a speech. All of a sudden, you’re up on stage, and you have no idea what a normal way to look at a group of people is. Some speakers deal with this by picking a point in the middle distance and speaking to it; others by picking a particular person near to the back and addressing their entire speech at them. This is obviously no fun for that person, who probably spends the whole thing feeling extremely uncomfortable, but it’s not too weird for everyone else. Better still, though, if you can manage it, is to look slowly and steadily around the room, trying to make eye contact with a decent range of people, before returning to the middle distance for a while, rinse and repeat. This needs to be slow and steady, or you give the impression that you’ve just smelled smoke and are casting about for a fire exit before the stampede beings.
11. Don’t be scared of a good reaction
If your speech is genuinely engaging, funny, inspiring or any of the other things you might hope it would be, your audience will react to it. There might be laughter, or applause, or even a bit of cheering depending on the setting. This can be daunting because when you’re practising your speech in front of your bedroom mirror, there’s no way to prepare for it. And it’s where even the best speakers can go wrong, by launching straight into what they were going to say next without waiting for the laughter or applause to stop, or by looking painfully awkward while it’s going on. It’s a pitfall that’s mostly solved by being aware it might happen. If your audience is applauding you or otherwise reacting well, it’s OK to smile, look up, wait for them to stop and then keep going with your speech – it’s as simple as that. You could even throw in a “thank you” before you continue in the knowledge that it’s all going well. Image credits: microphones ; audience ; boy with microphone ; clock ; winding road ; enjoy a joke ; sticky notes ;
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7 Keys for Writing a Strong Speech
Average: 4 ( 1 vote)
If you need to deliver a speech soon, you may be feeling stressed. If it’s your first speech, you may not know how to approach the writing process at all, because speeches are different from written works. Before you prepare and deliver a speech, you should figure out what speeches are and how to make your speech successful.
When delivering a speech, you should aim to not only provide your audience with valuable information but also establish positive relationships. You should deliver facts and useful information, and you should also be sure to deliver it in an engaging way. Your posture, tone, and gestures are all important if you want to make a good impression.
Although public speaking is a challenge for many people, it’s still a very useful skill. It turns out that professionals with strong public speaking skills earn 10% more than their colleagues, but it is common knowledge that it takes a lot of time, which students, for example, don't have much. Every public speaking professional has often chosen to set aside time for improvement, which is why, being swamped with tons of homework, it was necessary to request writers to write my essay online and free up time for the opportunity to become a master of his craft. If you want to grow professionally, you should consider improving your public speaking skills, and this article will help you focus on the right aspects. We gathered the seven best tips for writing a strong speech that will impress your audience. First of all, let’s think about what makes a good speech."
What Makes a Good Speech
No matter what your speech is about, you should ensure that your audience will understand you easily and that your speech will be engaging. Here are the main ingredients for writing a great speech.
Make it concise A good speech is concise. You don’t want to waste your audience’s time with lengthy introductions and unnecessary details. Of course, you may want to deliver a lot of information, but it doesn’t mean that your speech should be long. If you have control over the length of your speech, make it brief yet informative, presenting information in a condensed and well-structured way.
Make it clear Make sure that your audience will understand exactly what you say. Your speech should be easy to comprehend, so you should choose the right style of delivery. Don’t fill your speech with complex terms. Stick with simple language. A speech shouldn’t be as formal as a research paper, so use some informal phrases that will make your speech sound more natural.
Avoid bias Your speech must be as objective as possible. There’s nothing wrong with evoking emotions in your audience. Quite the opposite, if your audience reacts to your speech emotionally, the chances are that it’s good. However, you shouldn’t be overly emotional when delivering your speech, and you must ensure that all opinions that you present are unbiased and based on facts.
Keep it relevant Your speech should be interesting for the audience. You should ensure that there’s a need for your topic and that your message is perfectly relevant. Don’t try to impress your audience by providing lots of information that has nothing much to do with the main topic of your speech. Keep it focused.
Top 7 Tips for Writing a Strong Speech
1. Analyze your audience
Delivering a speech is a kind of interaction, and successful interaction is impossible without having a clear idea of who you’re talking with, what they can relate to, and what is interesting to them. You should also evaluate the size of your audience and the overall setting because these factors also have a direct influence on the nature of the interactions.
Consider the demographics of your audience: their age, gender, profession, etc. Think of what all members of your audience might have in common. Consider the reasons why they are present and want to listen to your speech in the first place. What do these people need? Do they need help with decision-making? Do they need information? What do they expect from you?
“Speakers 101: How to wow your audience” : 60-second summary
2. Consider the format and venue and prepare accordingly
Consider the reason why your audience has gathered to listen to your speech. Knowing the occasion, you’ll be able to prepare properly and improve the relevance of your speech, addressing the circumstances. Think of how much time you will have, what the format of the event is and how formal it is, as well as what tools will be available.
How to Grab and Keep Your Online Audience’s Attention
3. Avoid fillers
This might be one of the most difficult things to do because almost all people tend to use fillers like “uh” or “umm,” especially when they are a little stressed out. Such vocal placeholders can distract your audience from your message and have a negative impact on your credibility. Fillers become more and more obvious (and therefore annoying) every time you repeat them, so we recommend that you pay attention to the way you speak from the very beginning.
If avoiding fillers is especially difficult for you, you can ask for help. When rehearsing your speech, ask a friend or someone who helps you prepare the speech to stop you every time you add another “umm”. This way, you will know how often you use fillers, and what parts of your speech need more attention. Because on your own, you’re not even going to be aware of your use of fillers most of the time.
Stop “Um-ing” (and using other fillers)
4. Be confident
Don’t start your presentation with “I’m so nervous.” You don’t need to be nervous and nobody will find out that you’re nervous because you won’t give them any reasons to think so. You will deliver your well-prepared speech easily, with no fillers and no other problems. You will manage to do it easily because you will prepare, rehearse your speech, and talk about things your audience is interested in.
World of Speakers E.37: Angela Lussier | Gaining confidence to get on stage and get paid
5. Keep it simple
Don’t try to impress your audience with complex terms and complicated sentences. First, a successful speech must be easy to understand. Second, delivering a speech isn’t academic writing, so it enables you to choose a less formal tone. It means that when writing a speech you should approach the writing process in a different way than when writing academic papers. If you need help with the style and tone of your writing, you can order writing assistance from the Best Writers Online and choose experienced writers on platforms like Online Writers Rating or Writing Judge .
4 simple ways to improve your talks
6. Connect with the whole audience
No matter how big your audience is, it’s a group of individuals, and if possible, you should connect with each and every one of them. Therefore, we recommend that you use body language to keep your speech authentic, and also maintain eye contact with members of the audience. You should make your speech as engaging as possible.
Walk around and show some energy so that your audience won’t feel bored. This way, it will be much easier for you to keep their attention. Look at different members of your audience and don’t forget about those who sit at the back.
Presenting complex data? Engage your audience with these 10 tips
7. Prepare a strong introduction
The introduction is one of the most important factors that determine the success of your speech. You should use your introduction to grab attention and help your audience immediately understand why they should listen to you. Your introduction should be brief and interesting. For example, consider beginning with a short relevant story, a staggering fact, a controversial statement, or a meaningful question.
6 Best Persuasion Techniques That You Can Use in Your Speeches
Many people worry when they need to deliver a speech, but the truth is that if you prepare well, you don’t need to worry. Think about your audience, plan and rehearse your speech, and make it engaging. Developing strong public speaking skills may take some time, but practice makes perfect.
Disclaimer: this article includes a paid product promotion.
How to Properly Write a Review of a Speech
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5 Common Public Speaking Mistakes and How to Overcome Them
The 8 Key Elements of Highly Effective Speech
…and why your words barely matter.
Posted July 10, 2012 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
I’d like you to take a moment to experience the following sentence, taken from a recent article exploring the nature of human consciousness: “Neuroplastic mechanisms relevant to the growing number of empirical studies of the capacity of directed attention and mental effort systematically alter brain function.”
Exciting? Hardly! In fact, most of the words you read barely register in your brain, and most of the words you speak barely register in the listener’s brain. In fact, research shows that words are the least important part of communication when you have face-to-face conversations with others. So before you utter another word to another person, memorize this list of the 8 key elements of highly effective speech:
- Gentle eye contact
- Kind facial expression
- Warm tone of voice
- Expressive hand and body gestures
- Relaxed disposition
- Slow speech rate
- The words themselves
Effective communication is based on trust, and if we don’t trust the speaker, we’re not going to listen to their words. Trust begins with eye contact because we need to see the person’s face to evaluate if they are being deceitful or not. In fact, when we are being watched, cooperation increases.  When we are not being watched, people tend to act more selfishly, with greater dishonesty. 
Gentle eye contact increases trustworthiness and encourages future cooperation,  and a happy gaze will increase emotional trust.  However, if we see the slightest bit of anger or fear on the speaker’s face, our trust will rapidly decrease.  But you can’t fake trustworthiness because the muscles around your mouth and eyes that reflect contentment and sincerity are involuntary. Solution: if you think about someone you love, or an event that brought you deep joy and satisfaction, a "Mona Lisa" smile will appear on your face and the muscles around your eyes will soften.
The tone of your voice is equally important when it comes to understanding what a person is really trying to say. If the facial expression expresses one emotion , but if the tone conveys a different one, neural dissonance takes place in the brain, causing the person confusion.  The result: trust erodes, suspicion increases, and cooperation decreases.
Researchers at the University of Amsterdam found that expressions of anger, contempt, disgust, fear, sadness, and surprise were better communicated through vocal tone than facial expression, whereas the face was more accurate for communicating expressions of joy, pride, and embarrassment .  And in business, a warm supportive voice is the sign of transformational leadership , generating more satisfaction, commitment, and cooperation between other members of the team. 
You can easily train your voice to convey more trust to others, and all you have to do is slow down and drop your pitch. This was tested at the University of Houston: when doctors reduced their speaking rate and pitch, especially when delivering bad news, the listener perceived them “as more caring and sympathetic.”  Harvard's Ted Kaptchuk also discovered that using a warm voice would double the healing power of a therapeutic treatment. 
If you want to express joy, your voice needs to become increasingly melodic, whereas sadness is spoken with a flat and monotonic voice. When we are angry, excited, or frightened, we raise the pitch and intensity of our voice, and there’s a lot of variability in both the speed and the tone. However, if the emotion is incongruent with the words you are using, it will create confusion for the listener. 
Gestures, and especially hand movements, are also important because they help orchestrate the language comprehension centers of your brain.  In fact, your brain needs to integrate both the sounds and body movements of the person who is speaking in order to accurately perceive what is meant.  From an evolutionary perspective, speech emerged from hand gestures and they both originate the same language area of the brain.  If our words and gestures are incongruent, it will create confusion in the listener’s brain.  Our suggestion: practice speaking in front of a mirror, consciously using your hands to “describe” the words you are speaking.
Your degree of relaxation is also reflected in your body language , facial expressions, and tone of voice, and any form of stress will convey a message of distrust . Why? Your stress tells the observer’s brain that there may be something wrong, and that stimulates defensive posturing in the listener. Research shows that even a one-minute relaxation exercise will increase activity in those parts of the brain that control language, communication, social awareness, mood-regulation, and decision-making .  Thus, a relaxed conversation allows for increased intimacy and empathy. Stress, however, causes us to talk too much because it hinders our ability to speak with clarity.
When you speak, slow down! Slow speech rates will increase the ability for the listener to comprehend what you are saying, and this is true for both young and older adults.  Slower speaking will also deepen that person’s respect for you,  Speaking slowly is not as natural as it may seem, and as children we automatically speak fast. But you can teach yourself, and your children to slow down by consciously cutting your speech rate in half. A slow voice has a calming effect on a person who is feeling anxious , whereas a loud fast voice will stimulate excitement, anger, or fear. 
Try this experiment: pair up with a partner and speak so slowly that … you … leave … 5 … seconds … of … silence … between … each … word. You’ll become aware of your negative inner speech that tells you that you should babble on endlessly and as fast as possible. It’s a trap, because the listener’s brain can only recall about 10 seconds of content! That’s why, when we train people in Compassionate Communication, we ask participants to speak only one sentence at a time, slowly, and then listen deeply as the other person speaks for ten seconds or less. This exercise will increase your overall consciousness about the importance of the first 7 elements of highly effective communication. Then, and only then, will you truly grasp the deeper meaning that is imparted by each word spoken by others.
But what about written communication, where you only have access to the words? When it comes to mutual comprehension, the written word pales in comparison to speech. To compensate, your brain imposes arbitrary meanings onto the words. You, the reader, give the words emotional impact that often differs from what the writer intended, which is why so many email correspondences get misinterpreted. And unless the writer fills in the blanks with specific emotional words and descriptive speech – storytelling – the reader will experience your writing as being flat, boring , dry, and probably more negative than you intended.
The solution: help the reader “paint a picture” in their mind with your words. Use concrete nouns and action verbs because they are easier for the reader’s brain to visualize. Words like “sunset” or “eat” are easy to see in the mind's eye, but words like “freedom” or “identify” force the brain to sort through too many conceptual frameworks. Instead, our lazy brain will skip over as many words as possible, especially the abstract ones. When this happens the deeper levels of meaning and feeling will be lost.
For more information on how to improve your speaking and listening skills, along with additional exercises to practice, see Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies for Building Trust, Reducing Conflict, and Increasing Intimacy (Newberg & Waldman, 2012, Hudson Street Press).
 Cues of being watched enhance cooperation in a real-world setting. Bateson M, Nettle D, Roberts G. Biol Lett. 2006 Sep 22;2(3):412-4.
 Effects of anonymity on antisocial behavior committed by individuals. Nogami T, Takai J. Psychol Rep. 2008 Feb;102(1):119-30.
 Eyes are on us, but nobody cares: are eye cues relevant for strong reciprocity? Fehr E, Schneider F. Proc Biol Sci. 2010 May 7;277(1686):1315-23.
 Evaluating faces on trustworthiness: an extension of systems for recognition of emotions signaling approach/avoidance behaviors. Todorov A. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Mar;1124:208-24.
 Common neural mechanisms for the evaluation of facial trustworthiness and emotional expressions as revealed by behavioral adaptation. Engell AD, Todorov A, Haxby JV. Perception. 2010;39(7):931-41.
 Use of affective prosody by young and older adults. Dupuis K, Pichora-Fuller MK. Psychol Aging. 2010 Mar;25(1):16-29.
 "Worth a thousand words": absolute and relative decoding of nonlinguistic affect vocalizations. Hawk ST, van Kleef GA, Fischer AH, van der Schalk J. Emotion. 2009 Jun;9(3):293-305.
 Leadership = Communication? The Relations of Leaders' Communication Styles with Leadership Styles, Knowledge Sharing and Leadership Outcomes. de Vries RE, Bakker-Pieper A, Oostenveld W. J Bus Psychol. 2010 Sep;25(3):367-380.
 Voice analysis during bad news discussion in oncology: reduced pitch, decreased speaking rate, and nonverbal communication of empathy. McHenry M, Parker PA, Baile WF, Lenzi R. Support Care Cancer. 2011 May 15.
 Components of placebo effect: randomised controlled trial in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Kaptchuk TJ, Kelley JM, Conboy LA, Davis RB, Kerr CE, Jacobson EE, Kirsch I, Schyner RN, Nam BH, Nguyen LT, Park M, Rivers AL, McManus C, Kokkotou E, Drossman DA, Goldman P, Lembo AJ. BMJ. 2008 May 3;336(7651):999-1003.
 Use of affective prosody by young and older adults. Dupuis K, Pichora-Fuller MK. Psychol Aging. 2010 Mar;25(1):16-29.
 Gestures orchestrate brain networks for language understanding. Skipper JI, Goldin-Meadow S, Nusbaum HC, Small SL. Curr Biol. 2009 Apr 28;19(8):661-7.
 When language meets action: the neural integration of gesture and speech. Willems RM, Ozyürek A, Hagoort P. Cereb Cortex. 2007 Oct;17(10):2322-33.
 When the hands speak. Gentilucci M, Dalla Volta R, Gianelli C. J Physiol Paris. 2008 Jan-May;102(1-3):21-30. Epub 2008 Mar 18.
 How symbolic gestures and words interact with each other. Barbieri F, Buonocore A,Volta RD, Gentilucci M. Brain Lang. 2009 Jul;110(1):1-11.
[16i] Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. Tang YY, Ma Y, Wang J, Fan Y, Feng S, Lu Q, Yu Q, Sui D, Rothbart MK, Fan M, Posner MI. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Oct 23;104(43):17152-6.
 Comprehension of speeded discourse by younger and older listeners. Gordon MS, Daneman M, Schneider BA. Exp Aging Res. 2009 Jul-Sep;35(3):277-96.
 Celerity and cajolery: rapid speech may promote or inhibit persuasion through its impact on message elaboration. Smith SM, Shaffer, DR. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 1991 Dec;17(6):663-669.
 Voices of fear and anxiety and sadness and depression: the effects of speech rate and loudness on fear and anxiety and sadness and depression. Siegman AW, Boyle S. J Abnorm Psychol. 1993 Aug;102(3):430-7. The angry voice: its effects on the experience of anger and cardiovascular reactivity. Siegman AW, Anderson RA, Berger T. Psychosom Med. 1990 Nov-Dec;52(6):631-43.
Andrew Newberg, M.D ., and Mark Robert Waldman are the authors of Words Can Change Your Brain .
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15 Powerful Speech Opening Lines (And How to Create Your Own)
- Public Speaking , Speech Writing
Powerful speech opening lines set the tone and mood of your speech. It’s what grips the audience to want to know more about the rest of your talk.
The first few seconds are critical. It’s when you have maximum attention of the audience. And you must capitalize on that!
Instead of starting off with something plain and obvious such as a ‘Thank you’ or ‘Good Morning’, there’s so much more you can do for a powerful speech opening (here’s a great article we wrote a while ago on how you should NOT start your speech ).
To help you with this, I’ve compiled some of my favourite openings from various speakers. These speakers have gone on to deliver TED talks , win international Toastmaster competitions or are just noteworthy people who have mastered the art of communication.
After each speaker’s opening line, I have added how you can include their style of opening into your own speech. Understanding how these great speakers do it will certainly give you an idea to create your own speech opening line which will grip the audience from the outset!
Alright! Let’s dive into the 15 powerful speech openings…
Note: Want to take your communications skills to the next level? Book a complimentary consultation with one of our expert communication coaches. We’ll look under the hood of your hurdles and pick two to three growth opportunities so you can speak with impact!
1. Ric Elias
Opening: “Imagine a big explosion as you climb through 3,000 ft. Imagine a plane full of smoke. Imagine an engine going clack, clack, clack. It sounds scary. Well I had a unique seat that day. I was sitting in 1D.”
How to use the power of imagination to open your speech?
Putting your audience in a state of imagination can work extremely well to captivate them for the remainder of your talk.
It really helps to bring your audience in a certain mood that preps them for what’s about to come next. Speakers have used this with high effectiveness by transporting their audience into an imaginary land to help prove their point.
When Ric Elias opened his speech, the detail he used (3000 ft, sound of the engine going clack-clack-clack) made me feel that I too was in the plane. He was trying to make the audience experience what he was feeling – and, at least in my opinion, he did.
When using the imagination opening for speeches, the key is – detail. While we want the audience to wander into imagination, we want them to wander off to the image that we want to create for them. So, detail out your scenario if you’re going to use this technique.
Make your audience feel like they too are in the same circumstance as you were when you were in that particular situation.
2. Barack Obama
Opening: “You can’t say it, but you know it’s true.”
3. Seth MacFarlane
Opening: “There’s nowhere I would rather be on a day like this than around all this electoral equipment.” (It was raining)
How to use humour to open your speech?
When you use humour in a manner that suits your personality, it can set you up for a great speech. Why? Because getting a laugh in the first 30 seconds or so is a great way to quickly get the audience to like you.
And when they like you, they are much more likely to listen to and believe in your ideas.
Obama effortlessly uses his opening line to entice laughter among the audience. He brilliantly used the setting (the context of Trump becoming President) and said a line that completely matched his style of speaking.
Saying a joke without really saying a joke and getting people to laugh requires you to be completely comfortable in your own skin. And that’s not easy for many people (me being one of them).
If the joke doesn’t land as expected, it could lead to a rocky start.
Keep in mind the following when attempting to deliver a funny introduction:
- Know your audience: Make sure your audience gets the context of the joke (if it’s an inside joke among the members you’re speaking to, that’s even better!). You can read this article we wrote where we give you tips on how you can actually get to know your audience better to ensure maximum impact with your speech openings
- The joke should suit your natural personality. Don’t make it look forced or it won’t elicit the desired response
- Test the opening out on a few people who match your real audience. Analyze their response and tweak the joke accordingly if necessary
- Starting your speech with humour means your setting the tone of your speech. It would make sense to have a few more jokes sprinkled around the rest of the speech as well as the audience might be expecting the same from you
4. Mohammed Qahtani
Opening: Puts a cigarette on his lips, lights a lighter, stops just before lighting the cigarette. Looks at audience, “What?”
5. Darren Tay
Opening: Puts a white pair of briefs over his pants.
How to use props to begin your speech?
The reason props work so well in a talk is because in most cases the audience is not expecting anything more than just talking. So when a speaker pulls out an object that is unusual, everyone’s attention goes right to it.
It makes you wonder why that prop is being used in this particular speech.
The key word here is unusual . To grip the audience’s attention at the beginning of the speech, the prop being used should be something that the audience would never expect. Otherwise, it just becomes something that is common. And common = boring!
What Mohammed Qahtani and Darren Tay did superbly well in their talks was that they used props that nobody expected them to.
By pulling out a cigarette and lighter or a white pair of underwear, the audience can’t help but be gripped by what the speaker is about to do next. And that makes for a powerful speech opening.
6. Simon Sinek
Opening: “How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume? Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions?”
7. Julian Treasure
Opening: “The human voice. It’s the instrument we all play. It’s the most powerful sound in the world. Probably the only one that can start a war or say “I love you.” And yet many people have the experience that when they speak people don’t listen to them. Why is that? How can we speak powerfully to make change in the world?”
How to use questions to open a speech?
I use this method often. Starting off with a question is the simplest way to start your speech in a manner that immediately engages the audience.
But we should keep our questions compelling as opposed to something that is fairly obvious.
I’ve heard many speakers start their speeches with questions like “How many of us want to be successful?”
No one is going to say ‘no’ to that and frankly, I just feel silly raising my hand at such questions.
Simon Sinek and Jullian Treasure used questions in a manner that really made the audience think and make them curious to find out what the answer to that question is.
What Jullian Treasure did even better was the use of a few statements which built up to his question. This made the question even more compelling and set the theme for what the rest of his talk would be about.
So think of what question you can ask in your speech that will:
- Set the theme for the remainder of your speech
- Not be something that is fairly obvious
- Be compelling enough so that the audience will actually want to know what the answer to that question will be
8. Aaron Beverley
Opening: Long pause (after an absurdly long introduction of a 57-word speech title). “Be honest. You enjoyed that, didn’t you?”
How to use silence for speech openings?
The reason this speech opening stands out is because of the fact that the title itself is 57 words long. The audience was already hilariously intrigued by what was going to come next.
But what’s so gripping here is the way Aaron holds the crowd’s suspense by…doing nothing. For about 10 to 12 seconds he did nothing but stand and look at the audience. Everyone quietened down. He then broke this silence by a humorous remark that brought the audience laughing down again.
When going on to open your speech, besides focusing on building a killer opening sentence, how about just being silent?
It’s important to keep in mind that the point of having a strong opening is so that the audience’s attention is all on you and are intrigued enough to want to listen to the rest of your speech.
Silence is a great way to do that. When you get on the stage, just pause for a few seconds (about 3 to 5 seconds) and just look at the crowd. Let the audience and yourself settle in to the fact that the spotlight is now on you.
I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something about starting the speech off with a pure pause that just makes the beginning so much more powerful. It adds credibility to you as a speaker as well, making you look more comfortable and confident on stage.
If you want to know more about the power of pausing in public speaking , check out this post we wrote. It will give you a deeper insight into the importance of pausing and how you can harness it for your own speeches. You can also check out this video to know more about Pausing for Public Speaking:
9. Dan Pink
Opening: “I need to make a confession at the outset here. Little over 20 years ago, I did something that I regret. Something that I’m not particularly proud of. Something that in many ways I wish no one would ever know but that here I feel kind of obliged to reveal.”
10. Kelly McGonigal
Opening: “I have a confession to make. But first I want you to make a little confession to me.”
How to use a build-up to open your speech?
When there are so many amazing ways to start a speech and grip an audience from the outset, why would you ever choose to begin your speech with a ‘Good morning?’.
That’s what I love about build-ups. They set the mood for something awesome that’s about to come in that the audience will feel like they just have to know about.
Instead of starting a speech as it is, see if you can add some build-up to your beginning itself. For instance, in Kelly McGonigal’s speech, she could have started off with the question of stress itself (which she eventually moves on to in her speech). It’s not a bad way to start the speech.
But by adding the statement of “I have a confession to make” and then not revealing the confession for a little bit, the audience is gripped to know what she’s about to do next and find out what indeed is her confession.
11. Tim Urban
Opening: “So in college, I was a government major. Which means that I had to write a lot of papers. Now when a normal student writes a paper, they might spread the work out a little like this.”
12. Scott Dinsmore
Opening: “8 years ago, I got the worst career advice of my life.”
How to use storytelling as a speech opening?
“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller.” Steve Jobs
Storytelling is the foundation of good speeches. Starting your speech with a story is a great way to grip the audience’s attention. It makes them yearn to want to know how the rest of the story is going to pan out.
Tim Urban starts off his speech with a story dating back to his college days. His use of slides is masterful and something we all can learn from. But while his story sounds simple, it does the job of intriguing the audience to want to know more.
As soon as I heard the opening lines, I thought to myself “If normal students write their paper in a certain manner, how does Tim write his papers?”
Combine such a simple yet intriguing opening with comedic slides, and you’ve got yourself a pretty gripping speech.
Scott Dismore’s statement has a similar impact. However, just a side note, Scott Dismore actually started his speech with “Wow, what an honour.”
I would advise to not start your talk with something such as that. It’s way too common and does not do the job an opening must, which is to grip your audience and set the tone for what’s coming.
13. Larry Smith
Opening: “I want to discuss with you this afternoon why you’re going to fail to have a great career.”
14. Jane McGonigal
Opening: “You will live 7.5 minutes longer than you would have otherwise, just because you watched this talk.”
How to use provocative statements to start your speech?
Making a provocative statement creates a keen desire among the audience to want to know more about what you have to say. It immediately brings everyone into attention.
Larry Smith did just that by making his opening statement surprising, lightly humorous, and above all – fearful. These elements lead to an opening statement which creates so much curiosity among the audience that they need to know how your speech pans out.
This one time, I remember seeing a speaker start a speech with, “Last week, my best friend committed suicide.” The entire crowd was gripped. Everyone could feel the tension in the room.
They were just waiting for the speaker to continue to know where this speech will go.
That’s what a hard-hitting statement does, it intrigues your audience so much that they can’t wait to hear more! Just a tip, if you do start off with a provocative, hard-hitting statement, make sure you pause for a moment after saying it.
Silence after an impactful statement will allow your message to really sink in with the audience.
Related article: 5 Ways to Grab Your Audience’s Attention When You’re Losing it!
15. Ramona J Smith
Opening: In a boxing stance, “Life would sometimes feel like a fight. The punches, jabs and hooks will come in the form of challenges, obstacles and failures. Yet if you stay in the ring and learn from those past fights, at the end of each round, you’ll be still standing.”
How to use your full body to grip the audience at the beginning of your speech?
In a talk, the audience is expecting you to do just that – talk. But when you enter the stage and start putting your full body into use in a way that the audience does not expect, it grabs their attention.
Body language is critical when it comes to public speaking. Hand gestures, stage movement, facial expressions are all things that need to be paid attention to while you’re speaking on stage. But that’s not I’m talking about here.
Here, I’m referring to a unique use of the body that grips the audience, like how Ramona did. By using her body to get into a boxing stance, imitating punches, jabs and hooks with her arms while talking – that’s what got the audience’s attention.
The reason I say this is so powerful is because if you take Ramona’s speech and remove the body usage from her opening, the entire magic of the opening falls flat.
While the content is definitely strong, without those movements, she would not have captured the audience’s attention as beautifully as she did with the use of her body.
So if you have a speech opening that seems slightly dull, see if you can add some body movement to it.
If your speech starts with a story of someone running, actually act out the running. If your speech starts with a story of someone reading, actually act out the reading.
It will make your speech opening that much more impactful.
Related article: 5 Body Language Tips to Command the Stage
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So there it is! 15 speech openings from some of my favourite speeches. Hopefully, these will act as a guide for you to create your own opening which is super impactful and sets you off on the path to becoming a powerful public speaker!
But remember, while a speech opening is super important, it’s just part of an overall structure.
If you’re serious about not just creating a great speech opening but to improve your public speaking at an overall level, I would highly recommend you to check out this course: Acumen Presents: Chris Anderson on Public Speaking on Udemy. Not only does it have specific lectures on starting and ending a speech, but it also offers an in-depth guide into all the nuances of public speaking.
Being the founder of TED Talks, Chris Anderson provides numerous examples of the best TED speakers to give us a very practical way of overcoming stage fear and delivering a speech that people will remember. His course has helped me personally and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to learn public speaking.
No one is ever “done” learning public speaking. It’s a continuous process and you can always get better. Keep learning, keep conquering and keep being awesome!
Lastly, if you want to know how you should NOT open your speech, we’ve got a video for you:
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Questions That High School Students Have About College Admissions
3 ways to make warhammer terrain, 3 ways to brainstorm alone, 3 ways to memorize a speech in one night, how to bake a steak, how to find your spirit animal: 12 steps, 7 ways to know which chakra is blocked, how to paint surfboards: 14 steps, 3 ways to treat allergies in macaws, 3 ways to care for mynah birds, how to make a good speech for school.
Delivering a speech can be stressful, especially when you’re on stage in front of your peers at school. A good speech not only keeps the audience engaged but also imparts valuable knowledge or insights. In this article, we will explore the key elements and techniques that will help you create a captivating and thought-provoking speech for your school event.
1. Research and Preparation:
The first and foremost step in crafting an excellent speech is doing thorough research on the topic. Understand the subject matter and gather relevant information and data to reinforce your points. List down the key ideas you want to convey, and organize them into a structured outline. Preparation is crucial because it builds your confidence and ensures that your speech flows smoothly
2. Understand Your Audience
Keeping your audience in mind is essential while devising your speech. Consider their age group, interests, preferences, and any existing knowledge they might have about the topic. A great approach is to engage with your audience by using relatable examples or anecdotes from daily life. By understanding your audience, you can craft a speech that connects with them intellectually and emotionally.
3. Have a Clear Message:
An outstanding speech carries a clear message that stays with the audience long after it’s delivered. Create a statement that sums up the core message you want to convey through your speech. It could be an important lesson, inspirational thought, or even a call-to-action—whatever it is, make sure this central idea is clear and well-defined throughout the speech.
4. Keep It Structured and Organized:
A well-structured speech ensures that your ideas flow together seamlessly from one point to another without leaving the audience confused or lost. You can utilize several methods to organize your content effectively—these include:
– The chronological approach (following a particular time order)
– Topical approach (dividing your speech into different aspects or categories)
– Problem-solution pattern (outlining a problem and providing possible solutions)
Ensure that your ideas are organized logically and transition smoothly from one point to another.
5. Be Concise and Clear:
One of the most important aspects of a great speech is clarity. Avoid jargon or complex language that may deter your audience. Instead, use simple, concise words and phrases to make your speech accessible to a wide range of audience members. Additionally, avoid repeating the same points multiple times; focus on delivering concise yet impactful statements.
6. Use Effective Nonverbal Communication:
Nonverbal communication plays a significant part in making your speech more compelling. Maintain good eye contact with the audience, as it helps establish rapport and keeps them engaged. Adopt a confident posture and body language, as it enhances credibility and authority. Use gestures wisely to emphasize crucial points or convey emotions—just ensure they complement your speech rather than distract from it.
7. Assertive Vocal Techniques:
Using a clear, confident voice is imperative in conveying authority and credibility. Project an even tone and regulate your pace: don’t speak too rapidly or drawl. Vary your tone when appropriate to underscore essential points or convey different emotions which brings life to your words.
8. Practice Makes Perfect:
Lastly, there’s no substitute for practice when it comes to delivering a terrific school speech. Rehearse multiple times, making sure you’re using all the right nonverbal cues, vocal techniques, and annunciations. Practicing will also help you overcome anxiety or stage fright.
In conclusion, crafting a captivating speech for school requires thorough research and preparation, audience consideration, clear messaging, structured organization, concise delivery, effective nonverbal communication, assertive vocal techniques, and plenty of practice. Implementing these pointers will not only help you deliver memorable speeches for school events but also give you
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