You cannot excel at public speaking without a good speech. If you are asked to give a speech or it’s required for work or school, you know that when you stand up there to give that presentation, you are going to have to have a well-organized outline and content to get through it and impress those listening. Sometimes the fear of an upcoming speaking engagement comes from that writer’s block that happens when you have to write a good speech.
Writing a speech is not exactly like writing a term paper or a report. The reason is simple. What you actually “write” is not intended to be read. It will be heard. You don’t have to worry about good spelling or the other conventions of writing a paper because it might never see the light of day. If you are new to writing speeches, it might be best to write it out like a paper so you can hear it being said in your head.
But many times experienced speakers write a speech in the form of an outline based on a defined structure and then they hang the detail off of the structure. The detail is the content and the substance of the speech which makes up why your speech has value. It can include quotations, facts, historical references, scientific statistics, whatever you need to support the theme of your speech.
Now how you organize your speech may be determined by what kind of speech it is. And what kind of speech it is can be defined by what you hope to achieve. So a speech might be designed to convince, sell, entertain or inform. Many times a speech can be a combination of these forms. But you should define your expected outcome so you know if you have achieved your goal by the time the composition of the speech is done. Having that overriding goal well in mind helps in how you organize your speech.
The skeleton of a good speech is similar to a paper. But layout each section and allocate your time accordingly even before you write the speech. The components are the introduction, the opener, the personal introduction, the statement of the “problem”, three to five points of the body of the speech, the summary, and the closer or the call for action again depending on the purpose of the speech.
For the opener, it’s good to use something that brings the audience to you. It’s good to greet them warmly and seek a greeting in response. Some anecdote about the hall or the weather even can get the talk off on the right foot. Then go into your personal information but making sure what you tell relates to why you are the one here giving this talk. Keep every aspect of the presentation relevant to the central theme.
The problem statement can be phrased as a question. A good speech is like a good story because you must create a problem and then solve it. If you are going to discuss tricks for using Microsoft PowerPoint, start out talking about problems using the software with illustrations about catastrophes that have been caused by that lack of understanding. As much as possible keep the problem relevant to your listeners. Then move directly from there to present the body of your work in an organized way. Make sure you have three to five solid points. Tell them what they are, tell them the points and then tell them what you just said. That cements your presentation in their minds.
The conclusion is often a summary of what was just said. It’s good to close with humor as well. But you may also use the final summary of your talk for any call to action you may have in mind for this audience. If they enjoyed your speech, they want to know what you want them to do, even if they are not going to go do that. It just gives a nice ending to the discussion. Thank them for their time and close. But stick around because if it was a good talk, you will have questions or people who will want to talk to you about things they thought about afterward. And if that happens, you know for certain then that you did a good job.
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