At some stage in your career it is highly likely that there will be a requirement to deliver a speech on your field of expertise.
Whether it’s to a small room or a crowd in the hundreds, delivering a successful speech can be a daunting task and unfortunately, we don’t all have access to a professional speech writer.
By following these steps, and with some preparation and practice, you will be a skilled speaker in no time.
- Who are you writing your speech for? Is it a room full of graduates, an audience interested in your policy research or community members after information on a new program? Every speech, just like all forms of communication, should be audience driven.
- What is your speech about? The main points should be ranked in order of importance with supporting research.
- How long does it need to be? Most people speak at around 110-120 words per minute. Once you have established the required speech delivery time, write to this accordingly, or slightly over.
Writing the speech
- Begin with an outline and organise your thoughts.
- Strike the right tone – who is your audience? Why are they here? What do they want to hear from you? Writing a speech involves meeting the expectations of others, whether it’s to inform, motivate, entertain, or even challenge. In order to do this, you must adopt the right tone.
- Be specific – it’s better to give examples or statistics to support a point than it is to make a vague statement.
- Have a structure – you need a path and a destination. Set the expectation near your opening on what you’ll be covering. As you write and revise, focus on structuring and simplifying. Remove anything that’s extraneous, contradictory or confusing.
- Follow a basic speech format.
- An opening or introduction – begin with the most important idea/point on your outline.
- The body where the bulk of the information is given
- An ending (or summary)
Talk the talk
- Try and memorise your speech rather than reading it. Eye contact with your audience is important.
- Humanise yourself. Share a story about yourself, throw in references to your family. Be you.
- Practice makes close to perfect. Not only will this help you get more comfortable with your speech, it will also help you determine how your speech fits into the time allowed.
- Speak and stand naturally. Even if you are nervous, try to act as naturally as you can.
- End strong. Your ending is what audience will ultimately talk about when they head out the door.
- Check the tone of your language – is it right for the occasion, subject matter and your audience?
- Check the length of your sentences – make sure they are not too long, or complicated as you risk losing your listeners.
- Read what you have written out loud – check that it flows naturally and that you have chosen words that people will understand.