How to Write a Speech

Let’s face it, there is nothing worse than listening to a poorly-written speech. Maybe you sat through one at your high school, or college graduation; maybe at work. Whenever it was, we all have a memory of a boring speech. Well, to help prevent you from becoming the person who makes that speech, we’ve made a list of five tips.

Figure Out Your Main Ideas

A big difference between a good speech and a terrible speech is the how many strands of thought it follows. Great speeches choose one idea and expand on it; terrible speeches cram way too many thoughts into a single talk. If you try to cover too many different ideas in a single speech, your audience will lose focus and might get lost or confused. Save yourself the trouble and choose one or two main ideas to discuss.

Write the Way You Talk

This is a speech, not an essay, so there’s no need to write in extremely formal English. Use contractions like ‘aren’t’ instead of the more formal ‘are not’; and ‘I’m’ instead of ‘I am’. Your writing should reflect the way you sound when you are talking to colleagues at a meeting at work. When a speech is written like a scholarly essay, it can seem stiff and awkward. Sound like an expert – write the way you talk!

Get the Facts Straight!

Your speech is trying to convey a message to your listeners, and order for them to care about your message they first need to trust that you know what you are talking about. The best way to do that is through facts. Before you begin writing your speech, collect all the relevant points about the topic. Then sift through those facts and choose only the ones that are the most relevant or interesting. Include those in your speech. This will let the audience know that you have researched the topic and are an authority whom they can trust.

Give Your Speech a Narrative Arc

‘Narrative arc’ is a concept most commonly used in storytelling, but it can be applied to speeches as well. A narrative arc begins with a problem, takes you on a journey, then comes to a satisfying solution. A good speech does the same thing.

As you write your speech, you want to outline at the beginning the problem that you and the audience are facing; by beginning with a problem, you capture the audience’s attention.

Then, towards the close of the speech, you want to provide the audience with a solution. This furthers the impression of you as an authority, as well as giving your speech a nice sense of closure and conclusion.

Edit, Edit, Edit!

Once you’ve written the first draft of your speech, it’s time to edit! A good writer knows that half of the journey is in the editing. Edit the speech once for writing. Then read it out loud and see how it sounds. Edit it again so that it sounds more natural.

Continue this editing until you’ve reached a satisfying final product. Now you’re ready to give your speech.