4 simple tips for writing an effective speech

On this page

Posted on 
July 20, 2020

With one good speech, you can change the world. You can help a favourite nonprofit raise funds. You can help coworkers resolve conflicts. And you can reunite loved ones during an anniversary.

But giving a good speech isn’t easy. If you’re afraid that you might stutter, fail to make your point, deliver jokes that aren’t funny or get booed, don’t worry—it’s natural.

The first step to speaking effectively in public is to use a good script. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a professional writer to write an effective script. By following a few simple rules, you can create a good one.

  1. Study your audience

    A fast way to lose the audience members’ attention is to talk about issues that aren’t relevant to them. That’s why learning about your audience is the best way to start writing a good speech.

    Often, members of the audience will have diverse points of view and personalities. So when you’re addressing them, be respectful of these differences.

    • Study recent speeches that resonated with this audience and find out why they worked
    • Review blogs and magazines that target the members of your audience to discover what their specific interests are, and tailor your speech to address these issues
    • Speak with the members of the audience to determine their needs, challenges and fears
    • Interview people who interact with the audience to unearth new insights
  2. Organize your ideas

    In order to get your point across, you need to write with a clear purpose. Start by understanding the speech’s goal. The goal determines how you’ll present the topic.

    Then, make your topic specific, so that you can address each point persuasively and succinctly, because speeches aren’t always the best medium for addressing elaborate subjects.

    Research your topic. Research can give you helpful information and fresh angles. Some great ways to find information about a topic are:

    • Consulting topical experts
    • Reviewing scholarly publications, magazines and blogs specializing in the topic
    • Reviewing past speeches on the topic
    • Asking members of the audience to tell you what they need to know about the topic

    After researching the topic, organize the information into a clear format. Ideally, you’ll begin by presenting the issue, then summarizing the known facts and disagreements, before discussing why your ideas are beneficial and timely.

  3. Write the way you talk

    If your speech sounds like a technical manual, even rocket scientists will nod off. The best speeches aren’t dull, they’re conversational and inviting.

    • Use colloquial expressions and contractions, because they invite the audience to listen
    • Use stories, because they’re naturally engaging and memorable
    • Use strong verbs, because they evoke stronger emotions
    • Be concise so that the audience can remember the key message
  4. Be yourself

    Every public speaker is unique. So when writing your speech, don’t imitate anyone. Be authentic and original.

    Try not to use words that you might have difficulty pronouncing. If you’re speaking in a second language, avoid unfamiliar terms. Instead, use words that you’re comfortable with. And don’t use humour if you aren’t great at jokes. However, if you’re a natural comedian, don’t hesitate to put your skills to use!

    But remember not to make the speech about you. To make your mark, you’ll need to use examples and terms that the audience loves. Aim to find a balance. Let your personality shine through while addressing the audience’s needs.

    Also, don’t forget to edit and rehearse. Ask professional colleagues and loved ones to proofread the speech and critique your performance objectively.

Do you have a great tip for effective speech writing not included here? If so, please share it in the comments section.

Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

About the author

Stanley Igboanugo

Stanley Igboanugo

Stanley has a bachelor’s in communications and works as a professional freelance writer with visionary startups and organizations around the world. He is passionate about languages, storytelling and writing. When he’s not writing, he’s watching videos or listening to music.

categories-bullets

Leave a comment

Please consult the “Comments and interaction” section on the Canada.ca Terms and conditions page before adding your comment. The Language Portal of Canada reviews comments before they’re posted. We reserve the right to edit, refuse or remove any question or comment that violates these commenting guidelines.

By submitting a comment, you permanently waive your moral rights, which means that you give the Government of Canada permission to use, reproduce, edit and share your comment royalty-free, in whole or in part, in any manner it chooses. You also confirm that nothing in your comment infringes third party rights (for example, the use of a text from a third party without his or her permission).

Comments

Comments are displayed in the language they were submitted.

Read comments

This is very good advice in a well-organized article. One point that I don't think you make expressly is that a speech should never be read (okay, maybe if you have a teleprompter, it will work). Use prompts on notecards or a full copy of the speech if you must, but don't read it. We can all tell when someone is reading, and it's always a letdown.
Also, some people tend to speed up when they're nervous, so make sure to take a breath and speak at an even, normal pace. Pauses for emphasis also work well.

Thank you, Desmond.
You're right. Delivering your speech with prompts is usually a better alternative than delivering it with the full script. It makes for a better impression.
Also, taking a break to speak at a normal pace is pretty good advice.
Thanks again for your valuable contribution.

Date modified: