‘It usually takes three weeks to prepare an impromptu speech.’ ~Mark Twain
What are the four Rs of speech writing?
Research ─ Find out what you’re going to be writing about.
Rapport ─ Pinpoint the common dominator. Make an emotional or intellectual connection with audience.
Reach ─ Involve the audience in the speech. Persuade. Convert. Compel to action.
Resonance ─ Make the words live on after the speech. Echo a theme or key phrase.
Before you start to compose a speech, get a brief or do background research. Find pertinent literature or open up good ol’ Google. Let’s take these two topics:
- Fact: Gauteng is SA’s smallest province with the biggest population.
- Fact: The first Fashion Week was held in New York in 1943.
- Who is the speaker?
- What is the purpose of the speech?
- How much time do you have to deliver the speech?
It is important to keep your audience in mind when you are writing a speech. The speech has to build a bond with them. The aim is to get them to listen. Imagine a Joe Dlamini or Jane Winter in the crowd – speak to him directly, engage with her on an emotional level.
- Imagine that Joe is an entrepreneur from Soweto.
- Imagine that Jane is a fashion student from Sandton.
- Why is he there to listen to the speech?
- What is her socio-economic and educational background?
The aim of a speech is to reach the audience. To evoke an emotion or mark a celebration, elicit a response or call-to-action, to educate or inform – or a combination of all three.
- Message to Joe: Sign up for the Gauteng Entrepreneur Award. Win cash and training.
- Message to Jane: Welcome to SA Fashion Week. Be inspired.
- What is the desired outcome of the speech?
- What is the tone?
- What do you want the audience to do or feel as a result of listening to the speech?
TIP: Tell the audience what they will get out of the speech up front. Get them excited. Open with a teaser, a bang, a hook.
A great speech lives in on the minds of the audience long after the speaker has stepped down from the podium. It can be used in other media and PR initiatives. It has the power to reach and influence more than just the audience that was there on the day. Finish with a statement that will carry over like an aftershock or an ‘echo’.
- Joe’s echo: “I want to be the best entrepreneur in Jozi. I’m going to lead the way.”
- Jane’s echo: “I’m home. I belong in the fashion industry. I’m the future.”
- How can you create a theme or metaphor?
- Can you develop a story the audience can take to friends, social networks etc?
- Can you create a catch phrase that will be taken up by others?
- How do you merchandise the content of the speech?
TIP: Use storytelling techniques. Create a metaphor. Repeat key phrases for impact.
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