Hello, fellow student, and welcome to the complicated, yet rewarding world of speech writing! Delivering a speech is thrilling — you climb on a stage, clear your throat, and watch the audience getting quiet in anticipation. What follows next can either be a disaster, or a fairly good speech, or an excellent one — and this depends on you. It’s undeniable that your rhetorical skills do matter, but the content of your speech is what makes the crucial impression.
What Makes a Good Speech
We bet you’ve heard some good speeches from the influential people of our world, and pretty ordinary speeches at your school graduation. Why do some performances strike a chord in people’s hearts, while others leave the audience yawning and constantly checking their smartphones? The answer is simple: a good speech always has a path and a destination. In other words, you need to show your readers where you are taking them and how you will do it.
How to Write a Speech Step by Step
Writing a speech is challenging if you perceive it as challenging. We are not saying that simply believing you can do it will turn you into the best speech writer (if only!), but mindset is truly important. Don’t treat your speech too seriously, at least when you are working on the first draft.
1) Start writing it like a blog post or a really long message to your friend.
Seriously, we are writing more than any generation on Earth so far, so why won’t we use it for good? Starting off with something casual in mind will help you relax and get your creative juices flowing. On the contrary, if you are approaching the work with a tense mindset, thinking “I’m going to write a speech I will present in front of people,” you will easily get stuck with writer’s block.
2) Edit like you are going to give a speech in the White House.
Now it’s time to get as serious as you can. You are free to have maximum fun when writing a speech, but once you get to the editing part, take your picky, annoying personality out of the closet and bring it to the steering wheel. Here’s a tip on how to make your speech 50% better instantly – cut the first and the last paragraph. Then write a new opening paragraph with a joke (a good one, test it first on someone!) or another ice-breaker. Rewrite the last paragraph by summing up all you’ve said before in 15 words. This is what your audience will remember.
3) Make sure you have used rhetorical devices.
Comprehending spoken text is much harder than written text, which is why speech writing has slightly different laws of text construction. Though this falls into the editing section, we separated it to show you how important it actually is for a successful performance. Rhetorical devices such as repetitions, rhetorical questions, comparisons and contrasts perform two important functions. First of all, they grab back the listener’s attention when it starts floating away (and it inevitably will), and they tighten the logical connections of your speech.
4) Proofread using techniques relevant for speech writing.
If you reread the speech, this will have some effect, but omitted commas won’t really matter in spoken text. What you need to do is to read it aloud to your fried, or even better – to present it as you would present on the presentation day. If you can’t do it now, just reading aloud to yourself or recording and then listening to yourself will also be fine.
Other Important Speech Writing Tips
Before you hit the “print” button, check these go-to tips and make sure one last time that your written speech is perfect.
- Everyone will talk about the ending. You can get a little bit boring in the body of the speech. You can even sabotage the beginning a little bit, but make sure you put everything you have in the ending. Think how you behave when you walk out of a movie or a show with a powerful ending – you are thrilled, you want to talk about it! Aim for the same effect in your speech, and don’t get too upset if you stumble in the first two parts.
- Being nervous is okay, and admitting it openly is even better. Wait, whaaaaaat? Are we saying that facing several dozens, or even hundreds, of people and telling them how nervous you are is a good idea? Yes! By doing so, you become relatable and trustworthy to your audience – we bet that everybody can relate to feeling anxious on a stage. For example, you can include this in your introduction to crack the ice.
- Don’t turn it into “me time.” Being on stage under the spotlights, the gazes of your audience automatically implies that you are the most important person here. You can follow this attitude if you are determined to utterly fail your speech. Regardless of your public speaking skills, the “it’s all about me, me, me” mood shines through all cracks and makes your listeners uncomfortable and bored.
Have you ever delivered a speech? How did it go? Share your experiences and personal tips in the comment section below.