What Are The 4 Rs Of Speech Writing?

‘I’m Speechless’ — What Are The 4 Rs Of Speech Writing?


‘It usually takes three weeks to prepare an impromptu speech.’ ~Mark Twain

What are the four Rs of speech writing?

  1. Research ─ Find out what you’re going to be writing about.
  2. Rapport ─ Pinpoint the common dominator. Make an emotional or intellectual connection with audience.
  3. Reach ─  Involve the audience in the speech. Persuade. Convert. Compel to action.
  4. Resonance ─ Make the words live on after the speech. Echo a theme or key phrase.

1.  Research

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.

Ask yourself:

  1. Who is the speaker?
  2. What is the purpose of the speech?
  3. How much time do you have to deliver the speech?
TIP: Narrow your key message into one salient and punchy sentence. Keep it in front of you as you write. 

2.  Rapport

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.

Ask yourself:

  1. Why is he there to listen to the speech?
  2. What is her socio-economic and educational background?
TIP: Use words like ‘We’ rather ‘I’. Be inclusive. 

3.  Reach

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.

Ask yourself:

  1. What is the desired outcome of the speech?
  2. What is the tone?
  3. 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. 

4.  Resonance

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.”

Ask yourself:

  1. How can you create a theme or metaphor?
  2. Can you develop a story the audience can take to friends, social networks etc?
  3. Can you create a catch phrase that will be taken up by others?
  4. How do you merchandise the content of the speech?

TIP: Use storytelling techniques. Create a metaphor. Repeat key phrases for impact.

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course or join our course in Johannesburg.

 by Anthony Ehlers

If you enjoyed this post, read:

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This article has 3 comments

  1. Derrick Darden

    Good practical quick tips on public speaking.

  2. DL Kirkwood

    Anthony, I found myself nodding as I read this. Election time in the U.S. is a great example of what NOT to do in my opinion.

    Many supports of a Candidate can kill votes by ‘being themselves”. They need to be their Candidate ! For example, I have seen memes peole have made with the Candidate name on it, and read some rather inflammatory comments eluding to their Candidate.

    I understand their passion, however if their candidate is one not to sling mud, then don’t sling mud. Especially if you are aiming at the undecided vote.

    Know your audience and research facts. Someone in an audience may just happen to be a person who does research and can pick out any B.S. the speaker tosses in for colour or entertainment. Being found out will not be a pleasant experience, and that little bit of research is less time consuming than the need to rebrand yourself and hope people forget your faux pas.

  3. Anthony Ehlers

    Thanks, DL and Derrick. Do US politicians still have professional speechwriters that craft their speeches for them?

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