Speech Writing

Once you have picked the subject of your speech, it’s now time to start writing it. There are many ways in which you can write a speech and with time you’ll find a way that is unique to you and suits you best. The only common rule is that you must set yourself some time in which you can solely focus on your task at hand. Focus is key in speech writing!

You should start your speech writing process by carefully consider what the exact purpose of your speech is and what its message should be. This should form the basis of an outline for your speech. Think of your outline as a high level blueprint for your speech, laying out its key parts, ideas and components together. Your speech outline doesn’t need to be very long or detailed. However, it must contain enough elements to give out an idea of the story or message that will be conveyed out to the audience. This is also where you’ll decide what the structure of your speech will be. Will it be chronological, problem vs solution or purely informative?

When you start moving on from your outline to write your speech. Remember that what you are doing is only writing the first draft of your speech. Don’t worry about the size of your first draft as things can always be edited later. It is better to start with more content than with too little content. Additionally, don’t lose sight of the following when writing your speech:

  • Write for the ears and not for the eyes – Avoid the temptation to use overtly complicated words and long sentences. Crisp, short sentences written in a conversational style are best.

  • Less is more – Don’t include too many numbers, rhetorical devices or unusual words in your speech. This has the effect of dazzling the audience and of making it harder for it to connect with your speech’s contents.

  • Remember the rule of 3 – Having more than 3 core points or core stories is rarely necessary in a speech. Having fewer means losing out on substance but having more runs the risk of losing the audience’s attention.

  • Go with the flow – When your creative juices are running, let them be! Your main priority is to get a first draft written. You can always edit things later and cut out what you feel might be unnecessary. But at first, write on!

Some people prefer to write their speeches on paper first and to type them up later. This has the advantage of making editing and playing around with things somewhat easier. If you prefer to type everything directly this is completely fine too.

Once you’ve written the first draft of your speech, edit it mercilessly. If one part of your speech doesn’t fit with the core message of your speech, axe it! Furthermore, you should pre-empt your delivery by keeping track of the length of your script. A rough guideline that you can use here is that 1 minute of speaking = 100 to 120 words. Incorporate rhetorical devices etc. as needed when editing your speech and cut out or replace words that are not as effective as they could be. Pay particular attention to your opening and conclusion! The opening must catch the audience’s attention and trigger an interest about the rest of the speech and what will follow. The speech’s conclusion must be powerful and if it includes a call to action of some sorts so much for the better!

It can be very useful to read your speech out loud when editing it. This way sentences or words combinations that are awkward can be spotted far more easily.