Are you intimidated when faced with the prospect of writing a speech? The good news is that it is a skill that can be learnt and it is a great addition for writers to have on their resumes. It is also something that other people will pay you to write for them.
And who knows? You may have to write one for yourself when you finally win that literary award or launch your book.
Speech Writing Part One: What People Expect From A Speech
1. What Is Your Intention?
Why are you writing the speech? Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is so true. When we think about people, the first thing we remember is our emotional response to them.
Whatever you write, bear in mind that your audience will mostly take away a feeling from the speech, so it is important that you elicit the response you want with the words you choose.
2. What Does Your Audience Want?
Audiences expect two things from a speaker: A path and a destination. They want to know where you are going and why they should listen to you. It is a good idea to tell them what you will be covering and why they need to know it at the beginning of the speech.
Tip: Focus on structure and simplicity. Remove anything that is confusing, extraneous, and contradictory. If it does not help you get your core message across, remove it.
3. How Do You Keep It Simple?
When you write a speech, you have two objectives. You need to make a good impression and you need to leave your audience with two or three points that they will remember.
Speeches are one of the most inefficient and ineffective forms of communicating. People rarely remember what you say, so you should focus on one message with one theme and a story to illustrate it.
4. Which Facts Should You Include?
It helps persuade people if you have statistics or other facts in your speech, but do not use too many. People will become bored if you do. You can also use a quotation from somebody else that the audience likes and respects. Again, one quotation is plenty.
5. How Long Should It Be?
An important speech should be no more than 10 minutes long. Five is better. If you are aiming for seven minutes, your prepared speech should be shorter than that so you can factor in time for pauses and audience responses.
Watch out for next week’s post, The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Writing A Speech.
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