The Fundamentals of Speechwriting

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Have you been called on to give a speech? This process can certainly be a nerve-racking one, but if you’re prepared with the fundamentals of speechwriting in mind, you can go into your presentation with confidence. Discover how to write a successful speech with the tips below.

Know the Basic Elements of Your Speech
When planning your presentation, you should have a clear understanding of these factors:

1. Your purpose. Are you trying to persuade, inform, entertain, or demonstrate something to your audience? What topic or factors are you focusing on specifically? You should be able to summarize your speech in a single sentence. For example, “I will inform my audience about the little-known facts regarding global warming.”
2. Your projected time length. Nothing is worse than preparing a 10-minute presentation when you’re scheduled for a whole hour of talk time. The same goes the other way. You don’t want to cram an hour-long speech into 10 minutes. Be mindful of your time when writing your speech.
3. The appropriateness of the topic. Make sure your topic is at your audience’s level. If you’re speaking to a group of elementary students, you wouldn’t dive into the complicated aspects of the political system.
4. Your knowledge on the topic. Consider what you know, how you can apply that to your speech, and what research – if any – you need to do.

Start Your Speech Off Right
If you can’t capture your audience in the first few minutes, you’ve already lost them. Make sure your speech gets right to the point in the introduction and that you’re not dragging on about an unrelated topic. In the introduction, it’s also important to establish credibility. If your audience doesn’t already know why you’re qualified to speak on the subject, share your credentials with them.

Frame Your Message Appropriately
Two speeches given on the same topic can result in two very different messages given the way the author frames the message. If you use slang language, you come off sounding less professional. If you use industry jargon when talking to people outside of your industry, you may confuse your audience.

Also consider how you’re emphasizing various topics. If you’re spending a lot of time on a section that’s relatively unimportant, your audience may come away with the message that it is important. When giving your speech, your tone can also impact the way your audience receives your message, so be sure to practice to ensure you have control over your tone of voice.

Avoid Speech Barriers
Speech barriers come into play through the language you use, your audience’s perception, and your own ethnocentrism (or your perceptions of the world based on your own culture). Evaluate where you and your audience stands, and explore ways in which you can put you and your audience on the same page. Practice your speech in front of a friend or colleague, and ask them to focus on how your particular audience might perceive your message.

These are just a few ideas to keep in mind when writing your speech. Need more tips? Check out this guide for a broader look at speech writing.