Then one of the organizers asked someone to stand up "to say a few words," and her presentation turned into the longest, least organized, most lifeless talk I've ever heard. Those who were standing near the back of the room slipped out. For the rest of us, the goodwill slipped away. You can find a lot of advice out there on how to give a speech in front of a big audience, but how often do most of us do that?
More often, you're likely asked to take a few minutes to address a smaller group--sometimes with little or no warning. Want to read more, make a suggestion, or be featured in a future column?
Contact me or sign up for my weekly email. There's an unfortunate temptation in a short speech to try to cram everything you have to say into a short time. Instead of trying to make the time fit the speech, however, recognize that you have to make your remarks fit the time allotted. If you've got five minutes to talk, you shouldn't have more than three main points.
This applies whether you have five days notice before your speech or 30 seconds. If you're surprised to be called on to speak, your planning might consist only of conjuring up your three main points while someone else is trying to get everyone's attention and introduce you, but that's better than nothing.
Ideally, you want to plan everything you're going to say, rehearse in front of other people, and rewrite over and over. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that short remarks require less preparation.
In fact, giving a good short speech can be harder than giving a long one. Here are tips to help you plan and write a great speech.
To write a speech, start off with an attention-grabbing statement, like "Before I begin my speech, I have something important to say. Use transitions throughout your speech, like "This brings us back to the bigger picture," so the audience doesn't get lost.
To conclude your speech, restate the key points and leave your audience with a question or something to think about. Sample Speeches Sample Political Speech. Sample Speech Asking for Donations. Sample High School Graduation Speech. Choose your topic well. A good speech focuses on a message, which needs to match the occasion. It should resonate well with the audience's interests, and it should be important to the listeners. A speech for school is usually open-ended, so choose a topic that you are passionate about.
Good speeches depend on delivery and the heart put into it by the speaker. If you are enthusiastic, odds are your audience will be, too. Find purpose or thesis. Why are you giving a speech on this topic? Thesis is the main point to emphasize. If you are writing a speech about an event in your life, what's your message?
Your topic may cover your near-death experience, but your thesis or purpose could be advocating the use of seat belts. You need reasoning to back it up; "It saved my life" is pretty hard to argue with! A good speech is made for a good reason: These are noble purposes -- and not merely to sound off; feed the speaker's ego; or to flatter, intimidate, or shame anyone.
All good speeches require shape: A speech is not an amorphous blob or tangled strings of thought. Body of the speech. State at least three points to support your argument.
If they build on each other, good. For your first draft, you can make a list and pick out the strongest arguments later. If your points are illogical, don't attempt to pad them with other reasons. Make sure your reason is sound, and then you can try to add persuasive techniques. Plato's appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos come in handy here. Persuade your audience to agree by gaining credibility ethos or by using others' when you think of Hanes, do you think of quality underwear or do you think of Michael Jordan?
By manipulating their emotions pathos , or by simple use of logic logos. Neither is necessarily stronger or more effective than the others; it all depends on the situation. When giving a speech to 8th graders, it's important not to get esoteric -- in other words, use words they will understand and appreciate.
That being said, what do they know? Don't waste time explaining concepts to them that they already know; or worse, assuming they know the basics and confusing them horribly.
Put yourself in their shoes as you write -- what background knowledge do they need before you jump in to the meat of your argument? Personalize your speech by hooking members of your audience.
Build agreement with your topic and a sense of rapport with you. Former Ambassador Robert Strauss used to begin his addresses like this: Wear your sincere smile, even in your writing. Audiences will be able to tell.
You may want to begin with an amusing one-liner or thought-provoking anecdote that can be connected to the situation.
As you're writing, think about what you would say to a friend. The more comfortable and open you are, the more your audience will feel drawn to you. Choose how you express yourself as if you were having a discussion with someone you feel at ease with, someone you're comfortable showing emotion to. A speech with "heart" is the most moving kind. Focus on your message. For some, it's easy to get side-tracked or to try to attack too many things at once.
Your speech has one message and it is the only thing that needs to be addressed thoroughly. Don't focus on the details or, what's worse, something completely unrelated.
Your audience will be left wondering what the heck is going on. Rambling will lose their attention. When you have a point addressed and taken care of, do not be afraid to move on. You have more points that deserve the spotlight -- give each its evenly-spread due. Make your writing graphic. Your goal is to make the main points of your writing in the speech stick in the minds of your audience. If someone asks or compliments your speech afterwards, it'll probably sound something like, "I enjoyed the story Tom told about his sister," or "The pie chart of this year's earnings was helpful.
This can be taken a number of ways. If you are talking to your business team about the year's poor numbers, painting an image of their starving families to drive them to work harder isn't a good idea. Images should be used appropriately. If you're talking numbers, use graphs. If you're talking emotions, paint a picture. The best actors are equally effective if not more so in between their lines.
Write pauses, or beats, when you really want a point to sink in. People will automatically take notice -- looking, straightening up and cocking their head to the side and actually hearing the silence. Now that's commanding a room.
Speeches need to be natural - not read off of a paper. And when you talk, you have pauses. This is not slowing you down or showing your weakness, it shows that you have this down so well, you're talking about it like an old pro. Start off with a strong introduction. Open with a big statement that will grab the attention of the audience. Remember that engaging hook we talked about? That goes in now. Dive right in, getting personal and showing your human side. Opening with important remarks or quotes will immediately establish credibility.
Just don't use Merriam Webster as your go-to expert; avoid cliches at all costs. Use inclusive terms for individuals. Your audience will feel more included and a sense of belonging. If "we" feel that way, they'll feel the pressure to feel that way, too. Tell your story in whatever way feels natural. A good story can be a lot more powerful than the most compelling facts and statistics. Lists like this one are one way to impose a structure on a speech.
It is said that Woodrow Wilson once gave the following reply to a speaking request: But the best way to make a point is concisely, as Churchill did when he announced during a wartime address: The President advised us: It was a helpful reminder to stop focusing on polls and soundbites and simply say something we believed in as simply as we could.
Sharing a personal story can help you find your voice and build a connection with the audience.
If you’re going to invest the energy in writing and delivering a speech, it should be on a subject that’s important to you. You’ll notice that I didn’t give you any advice about content—that’s because you should be the expert on the subject.
Jan 19, · A great speech has a clear voice speaking throughout. A great speech conveys one idea only, though it can have lots of supporting points. And most of all: a great speech answers a great need.
Ten Top Tips For Writing A Memorable Speech Bill Cole, MS, MA Founder and CEO William B. Cole Consultants Silicon Valley, California. When you sit in the audience enjoying a wonderful speech, the speaker's words seem to all make sense. Jul 27, · Choose your topic well. A good speech focuses on a message, which needs to match the occasion. It should resonate well with the audience's interests, and it should be important to the listeners%(31).
This online activity allows students to go through the step-by-step process on how to write a speech and deliver it. As a culminating experience, students can read their speech over the telephone into a recording and have it posted online. Aug 11, · To make a good speech for school, choose a theme or topic to focus your speech on so it's easier to write. When you're writing your speech, stick with simple language so your audience understands and doesn't get bored%().