How do you write a speech? How to write a speech seems hard.
Most people go with the traditional:
- Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
- Tell them.
- Tell them what you told them.
Well, that’s pretty boring.
There are a couple of things to do first.
Recognize what a speech is
Essentially, a speech is an act. It’s a presentation in a specific time, place with specific goals for a particular audience.
It’s not a piece of art like a book or a painting. Speech is more like dance. While we may want to see the dance done exactly the same way every time, we can build machines to do that. No, speech and dance and acting are events of a moment by a human and because it’s by humans, it will have variations and unique parts regardless of how hard the performers may want to present in exactly the same way every time.
Think of a concert by a famous singer. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year watching Paul Simon’s concerts on Youtube. The man rarely repeats a song exactly year after year. Part of it must be boredom, but it also is that we can’t always control the atmosphere, the audience, the stage…
When you’re on a stage, often you have to deal with several emotions and situations that never happen during practices.
There’s the speech you write.
The speech you give.
And the speech you wish you’d given.
Recognize you’re a conduit for a message
The purpose of a speech is persuade people. There are many types of speeches, such as
- how to
- religious (sermons)
All of them have their unique values. But even if you don’t have the obvious purpose of convincing someone, you have to persuade them to listen to you. You have a right to speak, yes. But if you don’t convince your audience of the value of what you have to say – they aren’t going to listen.
This means you have to understand your message and prepare it in an appealing way. That doesn’t always mean funny. But it does mean understanding your audience and what you want them to do.
Recognize your purpose first
The end of your speech is actually the most important. Your audience needs to do something – that’s why you’re talking to them. Why are you taking up their time from their lives? You want them to do something. You want to give them something. You want to change their lives in some way. You have to give them a take-away.
Your reason for speaking is most apparent at the end of your speech when you give your call to action. What do you want the audience to do? That’s the first thing you have to think about – and you need to think about it. It’s not just a “I have to give a speech in speech class” reason. That may be why you have to speak, but it’s not the reason for this speech for the audience.
How to Write a Speech – Weird Secret Tip You’ll Never Guess and Never Forget
Write the end of your speech first.
Yes, you have to do that research and plan your thesis, but the key to a successful speech is to know where you’re going before you start. It’s like a trip – you know where you’re going. You do the research. You decide where you want to go.
Then you think about what you want to do while you’re there.
How much material do you need to write a good speech? It’s hard to decide so it’s always smart to prepare more than you need. It’s easier to cut than it is to run short – and I say that a bit as a joke, because cutting material is hard!
By writing the conclusion and call to action first, you can decide what material to keep and what to leave out. Then you’re ready to write your introduction last. You will discover that the intro can almost write itself. By this time, you’ve got a good handle on the material. You’ll be the most in touch with the potential humor and the words you want to use.
After you write your speech – either word for word or with an outline, then you work on presentations. We’ll be talking about that at our next class.
Read How Important Are Presentation Skills in our Class Notes section. Be prepared. It’s going to be fun!