Almost everyone I talk to about delivering speeches tells me that they would like guidance in speech writing as a first step. I can’t wait to share what I have in store for you to help you become a bold and brilliant speech writer. In the meantime, here are 10 quick tips to get you started with your speech writing! Good luck!
1. Make a list
As a first step in the speech writing process, you will have to choose a topic. Make a list of potential speaking topics (up to 10) that you know well and that you feel energized and excited about. From that list, choose one topic to focus on.
The most effective speakers and presenters are students first. You should be researching, investigating, and learning as much as you can about your topic. Once you get on stage, your credibility will depend on your ability to demonstrate that you are an authority on the subject matter. To do this, you will have to know everything you possibly can about your subject matter.
3. Think (and make notes!)
Before you put pen to page (fingers to keyboard?), you should spend some time thinking about your topic. Think about everything you have learned. Think about what the subject means to you. Without forcing it, let ideas come to you as you are doing other things. How might you begin? What key points do you want to get across? How will you get those key point across? As you come up with ideas, jot down notes so you do not forget them.
Once you are confident that you know your subject matter inside and out and you have spent some time thinking about how your speech might begin to develop, outline the substance of your speech. Build your outline slowly over the course of a few days. Start globally with three or four key headings. From there, as your ideas formulate, include sub-headings and sub-sub-headings, until you have a fairly detailed outline. As a tip, focus on the substance first and don’t worry about how you will start or begin just yet.
Once your outline is in good shape, spend a few days formulating a compelling introduction that will spark the attention of your audience. Consider beginning with a powerful quotation or an emotive, relatable story. This is your moment to capture and engage your audience. Once you have formulated your intro, add this to your outline.
Just as with your intro, think about how you will end your speech. How will you tie it all together? What compelling anecdote or insight can you leave your audience with so that the message you have delivered resonates long after you share it? Add this to your outline, as well.
Once you have a detailed outline in place, you will want to fill it in with your entire speech in written form. Just as there is no substitute for knowing your subject matter, there is no substitute for writing your entire speech from start to finish. Your speech should be written out in full in narrative form – this will be an early version of the form it will take when you actually deliver it.
Now that your speech is written, dedicate several days (if not more) to editing your speech. Make three substantive edits per page each time you go through it. Read with an objective eye. Consider what will resonate with your audience and what will not. This is your chance to ensure that you are crafting (and ultimately delivering) the perfect speech.
As part of the editing process, and before you finalize your speech, share your script with a few trusted friends or colleagues who will provide their own edits and advice. Solicit honest feedback and make changes based on that feedback.
As a last step, finalize your speech. Read through it several times, ensuring that it is written exactly as you want it to be. Read it out loud (of course, you are going to read it out loud many times once you transition from the writing phase to the delivery phase, but this is a good opportunity to test how it sounds, how it flows, and whether any adjustments will need to be made). Make any final adjustments so that you can then turn your attention to actually delivering your speech.