Whether it’s for work, a youtube video, or a personal event, chances are that at some point in your life you will be expected to stand in front of others and deliver prepared lines — a speech. And, not helped by all those awkward public speaking scenes in the movies, you’re probably also dreading the thought.
But knowing how to write and present a good speech is a teachable skill that can make a crucial difference in your life; a memorable speech gives you the opportunity to influence others, make positive changes, and have people in your circles respect you and help open those doors.
These days you can hire a professional paper writer who will prepare your speech for you from your random jumble of notes — you can focus on the presentation aspect exclusively. But chances are you want to know how to write one from the ground up, and that’s what this article is about. You can also use what you are about to learn to provide a clear TA for your writer.
First decide who you are speaking for
Who are these people? What do they already know about the topic of your speech? How do they feel about the topic? Where are their pain points? What will make them nod in agreement as you speak, and what will cause them to protest?
Then, start at the end
What conclusion do you want to get out of your talk? What will people have to do after you finish speaking? Vote? Buy stock? Go out for a volunteer cleanup? Donate to a charity? Change their behavior? So that’s where your whole speech should be headed. That’s the starting point, and that’s where we’ll lead.
The beginning is always the hardest part of a speech. The speaker is most nervous at the beginning of a speech. He does not yet know the audience and does not understand how it will react to him. Exhausts himself with doubts. And the audience at the beginning is always watching intently — what kind of a jerk came out here and is trying to tell us what to think?
One strategy to consider is a vivid self-presentation. Denote your expertise, so that the audience was less distrustful. Prepare “icebreakers” – jokes and unexpected emotional moments that should quickly melt the ice between you and the audience.
Notes on structure
When you’re sitting in front of a white sheet of paper or a blank monitor and you’re having trouble getting started, change your approach. Don’t try to write the whole speech in one stream at once. It’s hard to write and hard to listen to. Divide it up into parts. Start by identifying three key pieces. The rule of 3 works great in public speaking. Three blocks, each dedicated to a key message. Each thesis statement should lead up to the key action that we planned with you in the previous paragraph.
A structured speech is much easier to listen to and easier to get through to the audience. Structuring will keep you from blurring a single thought throughout the text. It’s easier to get water out of a structured text.
Don’t forget the arguments. Every thesis must be backed up with examples and arguments to make it sound more convincing.
Announce to the audience in advance what the structure of your speech will be. Tell them what you are planning to say. The audience loves announcements. They prefer to know where things are going. Don’t reveal all the cards at once, but throw in some intrigue.
Numbers are cool
No one is interested in a speech consisting only of statements and instructions. Find interesting facts about your issue; statistics, quotations and scientific data. This will enhance the effect and give the speech and you significance. But be careful, your facts should be fair and true. This is why you should always read related customer feedback when hiring a writing service.
Rhythm and agility
In order to keep your listeners from falling asleep, your speech must periodically change rhythm and direction. The tree-part structure will help you very well with this. Statistics should be replaced by stories, they should be replaced by vivid metaphors, and when you feel that the attention is dulled again – throw questions to the audience. Preferably not rhetorical questions, but ones that require reflection and an answer.
This livens up the presentation and gives the audience a sense of ownership, which in turn improves their impression of the speaker. Add more life examples, some unexpected comparisons, a few references to authoritative opinions and good humor. Do all this and your cocktail can’t fail to please.
Don’t try to tell everything you know. Even in a lecture of an hour and a half, don’t try to fit your entire knowledge of the topic (or that of your expert newsmaker) into your lecture.
Instead show the audience that you are an iceberg. The surface part of your knowledge is in your presentation, and the underwater part is much larger. This will command respect. And a desire to listen to you again.
Don’t be afraid of repetition
To increase the effect and better memorization of what you say, don’t be afraid to repeat the key ideas of each block of your speech. Most people are not very good at absorbing information by ear. Many during your speech will be distracted by their thoughts, a neighbor’s whisper or messages on the phone. That is why the most important points of your speech should be repeated. Sometimes literally. Sometimes by adding new arguments. Sometimes paraphrasing important points.
Get ready for questions beforehand
No matter how fully you cover the topic, and whether or not the event has prepared a Q&A session, there are going to be those who want to ask you questions. Some because they are particularly meticulous. Someone because they haven’t heard something important to them. Someone just to get your attention and the attention of other listeners.
When you write the text of the speech, think of the most likely questions and prepare answers. In addition to questions, there may be objections, and you need to be ready for them. You will be told: it does not work, it’s not effective, you’re wrong, and so on. Failure to prepare for this beforehand can result in emotions taking over and causing you needless embarrassment. Disarm this potential bomb with preparations and a dose of humor and humility. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know everything. People don’t like the guy obsessed with being seen as a know-it-all.
Something can go wrong during the speech. Audience members may become overly aggressive. A heated argument may ensue. An argument can lead away from the topic you prepared. You must have a plan to get things back on track.
You must have a plan to even things out. Have a few jokes, a couple of interesting quotes, a fresh anecdote appropriate to tell in public. By defusing the situation this way, you can more easily get back on track and bring the audience to the target action.
Think about the visuals that accompany the speech. Most people are visual. They understand better when pictures or objects are in front of their eyes. Decide how you will support your speech: slides, drawing on a flip chart, handouts, unexpected objects in your hands during the speech. Think of something out of the box, something other speakers in your industry haven’t done yet. This greatly diversifies the picture observed by the listeners, and thus does not let them get bored and snore, rather than to embarrass the speaker. Even the first writing messages were made in picture form.
Watch some masters in action
Here are a few of the best speeches ever. Check them out to get inspired for your own speech.
Steve Jobs’ address to Stanford Graduates, 2005
Objective: To show by personal example that it is not so much important to get an education
as to find something you like and not be afraid of change.
Format: Public speaking.
Audience: Stanford University graduates.
What to pay attention to: Steve puts accents in words to highlight meaningful ones. Logical three-part structure of the speech about connecting the dots, about love and loss, and about death. Personal experiences and life lessons.
Jim Carrey speech to Maharishi University Alumni, 2014
Objective: To convey to the audience that it is important to be ourselves, not who they want
us to be. This is the only way to achieve what will bring us and the world happiness.
Format: Public speaking.
Audience: Graduates of Maharishi University of Management.
What to pay attention to: Jim pauses and changes his voice to emphasize phrases and jokes. Facial expressions. Working with the audience. Life stories. Humor. Interactive.
Oprah Winfrey speech to Harvard Graduates, 2013
Objective: To share the idea that it’s never too late to start over. The key is to find what makes you “alive” and keep going.
Format: Public speaking.
Audience: Harvard alumni.
What to pay attention to: Facial expressions. Working with an audience. Life stories. Humor.