Speech writing is one of my favourite types of composing. It allows me to employ many of the skills I have developed in a long career in the communications field. Research, humour, body language, story-telling; they are all used in the process of writing and presenting speeches. I do realize that speech writing isn’t everyone’s favourite task; however, sometimes even those who shy away from public speaking are thrown onto the stage and must make the most of it. Believe it or not, anyone can write a winning speech. No, not all of us can be like Martin Luther King Jr., but we can do a solid job if we set our minds to it. What it really takes is a little careful planning.
Here are some of my pointers for writing a good speech:
- Before you begin writing a formal speech, create an outline. Answer the following questions: who am I going to be talking to? What is my main objective? What experience or knowledge can I offer the audience? What are the main sections or points I want to make in my speech?
- Make sure you know the subject you are about to write about. You want to sound confident; as if you are an authority. The creative parts of your speech will only work if they are supported by strong knowledge. The audience will trust you if you seem well-informed so do your research.
- Remember that this is not a formal essay or business paper you are writing. A speech is conversational so you should be writing in simple, short sentences. Write the way you would talk. Multiple clauses and long sentences will confuse your audience.
- Personalize your speech by using examples from your own life, from work experiences or from stories you have heard from others. Make a joke or laugh at yourself to put the audience at ease.
- Avoid using the same words over and over again. Your speech will sound too repetitive so change the words. Check a thesaurus often when you are writing your speech.
- Keep track of how long your speech is. Some of the best speeches ever written are only a few minutes in length.
- Always have a powerful closing.
- Once you have your speech written out, read it out loud. Pay close attention to how it sounds and how easy or difficult it is to read. If there are any tongue twisters then change the wording. If something sounds confusing to you, it will likely be confusing to the audience so change it immediately. Always, always keep it simple.
If you tackle your writing with a positive attitude and try applying some of the above pointers you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can turn a speech from dull to dynamic.