What is a speech and when is it used?
Speeches are written texts, more or less similar to essays, that are meant to be spoken to a group of people. They are used to persuade an audience into changing or adapting a perspective, address personalities for specific purposes, or make public statements. Put simply, speeches are written and delivered for political, educational, professional, and personal reasons. As the objectives vary, so do the ways of writing them.
Steps on How to Make a Good Speech
The process of preparing speeches is by no means universal. But there are certain practices used by seasoned writers that make composition effective for any context. Take a look at the following steps:
1. Decide on a focus
You already know your subject. What you need to decide on is how to talk about it. Before you begin writing for a specific objective, think of the topic in its entirety. Brainstorm a list of potential speaking points and consider each one’s significance and implications. Cross out the items that aren’t relevant. Narrowing your topic down to its essentials will give you a better idea of the angle from which you’ll approach it. You may need to do research beforehand. Facts such as company history, product specs, statistics, personal background information, and so on. Do your due diligence before drafting your speech. After this step, you’ll have enough data to know how to relate them to an audience.
2. Consider your audience
The audience should be the end-all and be-all of any speaking engagement. If nobody is interested in what you’re going to speak about, you might as well go home. The key is knowing how to engage your audience’s attention and keep their interest keen on the topic you’re addressing. Doing so doesn’t always mean you have to be entertaining or extremely funny. Consider the following questions:
- Will the audience be knowledgeable about the subject? If they are, how many of them? If they’re not, what do they need to know?
- How does the audience feel about the subject? If it’s not something they’ve spent time thinking about, how would you illustrate the feelings of those who have?
- Is the topic affecting the audience’s lives or does it have the potential to?
- Should the audience care about it? What related story will speak to their empathy?
Reflecting on these questions will determine the content of your speech and the manner of its delivery. You’ll have a better grasp of what facts to include, and whether your tone should be mainly persuasive or informational.
3. Prepare a structure
This step is where outlining enters the picture. Ensure that you follow a logical sequence for each of your talking points. The opening and the end should be properly plotted. Also, make sure you have smooth transitions when moving through the different segments of by using simple yet effective transition devices. An “additionally”, “however”, and “on the other hand” can go a long way. A clear flow will help grab your audience’s concentration, if not directly captivate them.
4. Start with a powerful point
The start of your speech is most likely the part where you have a huge chunk of your audience’s attention. When the speaker begins talking, that’s when they’re most compelled to listen. Take advantage of this by starting your speech with a strong hook.
5. Focus on specific details
Make use of concrete details to paint a picture of what you’re saying. This involves a bit of storytelling. When sharing anecdotes, be brief and secure a punchline, which doesn’t necessarily mean a joke. A punchline can be the final sentence that gets your point across to your audience and straight to the feels. Moreover, you can use factual data, news reports, or insider secrets that can capture the attention of your listeners.
6. Use visual aids when possible
In some event set-ups, visual aids are possible, or if you need to have them, you can put in an equipment request. Images can be very powerful and help you deliver your message better. For example, if you’re presenting a new product, you might use an image of the product itself. Or, if your speech is persuading an audience to donate to victims of a disaster, pictures of the devastation can initiate action.
7. Include a personal element
You’re more likely to interest your audience if they already know who you are and trust you. If you can get people to see that you’re credible, they’ll pay greater attention. So, think about telling them something interesting about yourself before you start talking. And, if you want to get their attention, tell them something funny or surprising.
8. Consider rhetorical devices
The most memorable lines from historically famous speeches often use stylistic methods to make their words have a greater impact. Rhetorical or literary devices include repetition, puns, wordplay, and figures of speech such as alliteration and metaphor.
9. End memorably
The final part of your speech usually has a more vivid mark in your audience’s memory. Clapback to your objectives in a subtle way. Then end in a meaningful manner by painting a picture of the future, sharing a success story, or giving a powerful call to action.
The Process of Writing a Good Speech
While the process and format for writing a speech don’t differ greatly from writing a typical essay, you need to focus on the element that it will be spoken out loud. As seasoned speechwriters would advise, a perfect speech in English takes on a narrative structure. Bear in mind that even if it’s lengthy, it follows one idea and therefore should revolve around that idea through all its segments. Transitions have to be used well so you won’t lose your audience while you move from one supporting statement to the next. Also, don’t lose sight of your target audience and the valuable time they’re spending listening to you. Whether you’re speaking on special occasions such as a school speech, speeches in professional settings, or talking about persuasive speech topics, effective speech writing focuses on the sort of audience they’ll be speaking to.
English speech writing usually follows a three-part structure. You need to have a captive audience by the time your opening is finished. The middle part has to be comprehensive, instigating focus and offering all the information your audience needs. And finally, you should finish on an impactful note.
The start should grab your audience’s attention immediately. The best way is to start with a joke if you can pull it off. If not, try using a speech format that includes a useful and relevant quote in the opening. You should also include your intention, a provocative question, or an astounding research result or statistic.
The body or middle part is where you get into the swing of things. You should detail a series of supporting statements, arguments, or reasons that your audience should listen to more of your topic, follow, and agree with you.
In your speech writing format stage, anticipate objections your audience may have and prepare counter-arguments or guarantees. This is what we call ‘objection handling’ and is a key feature for several types of speech. Remember that there won’t be any room to take questions and handle objections directly, so you should address many if not all the concerns that could develop.
If you’re there to persuade an audience, you should state your expertise or authority on the matter. Mention any personal background information that makes you an influential voice about your subject.
Speech writing in English considers the ending as the section that stands out the most, hence making it the most memorable. One of your aims is for your audience to leave keeping your message in their thoughts.
Use the ending as your chance to recap or summarize the main points and end it with a line that calls your listeners to action. Calls to action can ignite a response or motivate the audience to make changes or act on their principles. A call to action might come as a sort of battle cry, a question, or an invitation to ponder. Some examples of calls to action are “Go out and vote!”, “Do you have what it takes to make a change?”, “May these points linger in your thoughts tonight.”, “Think about the power you wield by doing such a simple thing.”, “Visit your nearest ambassador and tell them.”, and so on.
The key to any type of effective persuasion is to understand what motivates each individual listener. If the audience is not big, then you should focus your efforts on convincing that particular group. You may also wish to consider naming individuals within the audience. If the audience is large, then you should focus on appealing to a broader range of people. In either case, keep the message simple and applicable to all audiences. This will increase your odds of persuading someone. The language used differs from audience to audience. It can take a formal or informal tone contingent on the context of the occasion.
Garnering an emotional response from your audience is exceptionally powerful. The right words can motivate, move, and inspire. Empathy or sympathy towards a subject can disregard logic. So if your purpose is to convince or persuade your audience, using emotionally effective language can be an awesome technique.
Another powerful tool is asking questions, and in this case, rhetorical questions (questions that don’t solicit answers) are more commonly used. They can be thought-provoking and encourage self-reflection and dialogue. There isn’t a chance for a back-and-forth between the speaker and the audience in most situations, so questions can be used for an intuitive response from the listeners. Whatever discovery, realization, or sentiment will occur to them internally.
A fantastic device for setting the tone of your platform is using quotes. Pick ones that are significant to your subject. Quotes are useful if you’re stuck on how to get your message across. Quotes can also jumpstart other ways of tackling your objectives. Furthermore, it can add some value or novelty to a speaker’s rhetoric, in particular, if it’s a quote the audience has never heard before. With that said, familiar quotes can create an instant connection between you and your listeners. If what you’re delivering is a long piece, you can include two quotes properly spaced. Choose one that’s common and another quote that is rare.
Speech writing tips
The following are more tips on drafting your speech:
1. Be Memorable
A good quote can summarize your message and be easily remembered. If it’s not a quote, use rhetorical devices like metaphor, simile, alliteration, and so on. A good joke can also put your audience at ease and make the experience of listening to you stick to their memory.
2. Don’t Waste Your Opening
While the ending can anchor your audience into remembering your speech, the opening is where you establish a connection. Use appropriate body language, smile if you want to be more relatable, present a controversial sentence or statement, a shocking piece of information, and so on. It guarantees to engage your listeners’ attention.
3. Be Human
A disconnect between a speaker and their audience can happen if there’s no feature to relate to or connect with. Show your individuality by sharing a bit of your background to secure a sense of authority, or tell them a memorable anecdote from your own experience.
4. Use Transitions and Evidence
Transitions are necessary when moving from one supporting statement to the next. Think of it as a bridge between paragraphs when you’re drafting your speech. It’s also good to do some research so you have facts and statistics to present. Confidence can build trust and that’s the best way to communicate your message.
5. Use Visuals
In instances where using audio-visual equipment, take advantage of it. Images can be provocative and give a unique element to your speech. Listening to a story is a different experience from seeing it happen. Visuals are your chief link to ascertain an instantaneous bond or reflection.
6. Write the way you talk
It could be impressive to use complex vocabulary and grammar structures in a speaking engagement. However, it can alienate an audience just as much. Write the way you talk, so that when you’re speaking out loud it feels natural. Sometimes, keeping a speech simple makes it more intimate and convincing.
7. Repeat, repeat, and repeat again
You can employ a technique where you speak your main point repetitively throughout the speech. When used efficiently, you can really leave a lasting impression on your audience. You can paraphrase so it doesn’t sound tedious, or you can repeat some sort of mantra and encourage your listeners to speak it with you.
8. Connect with your audience
Connecting to your listeners should come first and foremost in your writing stage. Study the most effective method of doing this by reviewing the previous tips and using the ones that are most applicable to what you plan to achieve.
9. Keep it simple
Follow an outline that’s easy to follow. Remember that when you lose an audience, it’s over. Even if you’re touching on very intellectual topics, as long as you follow a clear organization, you will command and retain interest.
Preparing a speech and delivering it in front of an audience can be nerve-wracking in many ways, especially for first-timers. First, drafting an effective speech takes time and effort. It’s a long process that takes serious brain power: brainstorming, editing, and refining. Next is on the day itself. Depending on the size of your audience, it can be a daunting and anxious undertaking. Additionally, you’ll have direct firsthand feedback from your audience’s reaction. It won’t be difficult to tell if they are with you or against you. But don’t let a bad experience deter you from getting better, specifically if you’re going to do a lot of them in the future as a function at work or business. The more experience you have, the better you’ll be. Consider your audience, your purpose, and the many ways you could make your platform better and you should be fine. When speaking, breathe, make proper eye contact, act or entertain your listeners, and be confident.
Frequently Asked Questions:
It’s basically writing an essay to be spoken to a group of people. Just like a normal essay, it has a 3-part structure that consists of the opening, the body or middle, and the ending. The most successful writers follow a narrative style, with anecdotes, quotes, and rhetorical devices that make their drafts memorable. It also follows the speaker’s verbal pattern and shouldn’t use high-level vocabulary if they can’t articulate and verbalize it properly.
They take on different meanings according to their purpose. In an English class, a speech can have many objectives, just like the ones delivered during events. They’re one of the practical results of one’s language level or fluency in the English language. Not only do you need to create something memorable, but you need to deliver it well. It’s the culmination of writing, vocabulary, pronunciation, and fluency. It’s also the combination of the speaker’s personality, charm, and powers of persuasion.
The article has a couple of useful sections for a brief how-to guide. Read or review the ‘Steps on how to make a good speech’ and ‘The process of writing a good speech’ segments and take notes.
Before you can deliver any speaking activity for specific audiences, it will be disastrous if you don’t draft it first. You need to apply a good framework as the basis or you’ll be all over the place when the time comes to speak to your audience. This is the main reason writing is crucial.
For an overview, study the following features:
* Three main parts
* Rhetorical Devices usage
* Employs appropriate humor
* Anticipates objections and addresses them
* As brief and as long as it needs to be to cover its objective
* Personal elements such as anecdotes or stories from experience
* Narrative style or storytelling format
* Can trigger an emotional response from listeners
* Ends with a call to action
If you’ve had the opportunity to read speech writing examples in our blog, you will notice that they generally follow a structure of three parts: the opening, the middle, and the ending. The opening is usually the beginning paragraph, and the ending is the last paragraph. The middle can consist of as many paragraphs as needed to discuss the points you want to include. Treat it as one paragraph per point.
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