Writers Write creates writing resources and shares writing tips. In this post, we offer you the complete beginner’s guide to writing a speech.
Last week I started my series on speech writing with What People Expect From A Speech. Today I am going to give you a foolproof guide that will help you structure the speech.
Speech Writing Part Two: How To Write The Speech
Who Will Deliver The Speech?
Make sure you write a speech that fits the personality, speech patterns, and competency level of the speaker. If you do not know the person, try to arrange a short interview with them. Find out who they are, what tone suits them, and what they want to communicate.
The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Writing A Speech
Persuade With A Classic Structure
The classic structure of a persuasive speech is to state a problem and offer a solution.
In the first part of your speech you state: ‘This is the problem.’
In the second part of your speech you cover: ‘This is what we can do to fix it or make things better.’
- Answer the five Ws and the one H about the topic: who, what, where, when, why, and how.
- Write your main ideas down, including your research, data and quotations.
- Make a linear timeline for the speech, linking the points together making sure that they flow in a smooth, logical progression. Do not move away from this linear format. If you do, you will digress and lose the message.
- Write your introduction, including the hook you want to use to get your audience to listen to you.
- Write your ending, briefly summarising your main ideas. If you want your audience to do something, end with a call for action.
- Remember the length of a speech, as explained in What People Expect From A Speech is important.
An easy way to explain the process is as follows:
- Tell them what you’re going to tell them (Introduction) 15%
- Tell them (Body of your speech – the main ideas plus examples) 70%
- Tell them what you told them (The ending) 15%
About The Introduction
Do not waste time. People make the mistake of starting speeches by effusively thanking everybody and telling us how happy they are to be there. It is a good idea to explain quickly what your main point is going to be. That helps the audience know what to listen for. Then start with a statistic, or a question to interact with the audience.
All good speeches are only about one thing. Get straight into the story and tell the audience what you’re going to tell them.
About The Body
Nobody likes to be bored. Imagine yourself in your audience’s shoes. What would you like to hear from the speaker? Do not put too much information into your speech. If people read a newspaper or a blog, and do not understand something, they read it again. They cannot do this with a speech. Get it right the first time.
Remember you are not writing a formal essay. People will hear the speech and it should sound conversational.
Use shorter sentences. It is better to write two simple sentences than one long, complicated sentence.
Use contractions. Say ‘I’m’ instead of ‘I am’, and ‘we’re’ instead of ‘we are’.
Do not use big words when simple ones do the work for you.
Never use jargon or acronyms.
You do not have to follow all the rules of written English grammar strictly, for example, you can use fragments.
About The Ending
End by answering the question you asked at the beginning. Then tell everybody what you have told them – listeners need you to do this. End your speech on a positive note. This is what they will remember.
Watch out for next week’s post, Part Three: Delivering The Speech
If you need to write speeches, you should attend this course: Can I Change Your Mind?