10 Ways To Write A Better Speech

Pick Your Main Ideas

Don’t try to put too many ideas into your speech. Research shows that people remember very little from speeches, so just give them one or two ideas to hang onto. Remember, you only have one minute for your speech!

Write Like You Talk

Remember that you’re writing a speech, not an essay. People will hear the speech, not read it. The more conversational you can make it sound, the better. So try these tips:

Use short sentences. It’s better to write two simple sentences than one long, complicated sentence.

Use contractions. Say “I’m” instead of “I am” “we’re” instead of “we are.”

Don’t use big words that you wouldn’t use when talking to someone.

You don’t have to follow all the rules of written English grammar.

“Like this. See? Got it? Hope so.” Your English teacher might be horrified, but people don’t always talk in complete sentences with verbs and nouns. So try to write like people talk.

Always read your speech aloud while you’re writing it. You’ll hear right away if you sound like a book or a real person talking!

Time Limit and Word Count

The average person speaks at somewhere between 125 and 150 words per minute. It’s almost always better to speak more slowly than too quickly. Thus, if you’re speaking for 20 minutes, you want a total word count of somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 words. Be careful! I once got the math wrong and saddled a good friend with a 48-minute speech when he was trying for 30. Yikes! However words to minutes converter may also help you in this.

Avoid Word-for-word Speeches

Once you have experience as a speaker, work hard to avoid word-for-word speeches unless you have a teleprompter. Your delivery will be more interesting and more natural if you speak from notes or an outline rather than a script. Memorize an introduction if you like, to help get yourself going but use just notes for the rest. Yes, your speech may not be “perfect.” But having a few mistakes is okay if they help you improve your delivery. Your ability to be interesting and to engage with the audience will make up for any small lapses.

Divide the Speech into Five Parts

No matter how long the speech, always divide it into five parts: an introduction, point 1, point 2, point 3 and a conclusion. Or, in other words, tell people what you’re going to tell them, tell them what you want to say and then wrap up by telling them what you just said. This format is adaptable to a speech of just about any length but I’d divide a 20-minute speech as follows:

Introduction: 2 minutes (250 words)
Point 1: 5 minutes (625 words)
Point 2: 5 minutes (625 words)
Point 3: 5 minutes (625 words)
Conclusion: 3 minutes (375 words)
Total word count: 2,500 words (20 minutes)

Use a Mindmap

If you’re thin on ideas for the three points, consider using a mindmap to help you. Mindmapping is the best way for you to make your speech more interesting, more personal and more coherent.

Get Your Facts Together

You want people to believe that you know what you’re talking about! So you’ll need to do some research. For instance, let’s say your big issue is the environment. You promise to pass a law that says all new cars must run on electricity, not gas. That will cut down on air pollution! But it would help if you had a few facts: How much bad air does one car create each year? How many new cars are sold in the U.S. every year? So how much will pollution be cut every year? Use the library or the Internet to do research. Your new policy proposal will sound really strong if you have the facts to back it up.

Your Issue Should Reflect Who You Are 

There are many issues you can talk about at your inauguration. How do you pick one? A good idea is to look inside yourself and find out what you feel very deeply about. Maybe it’s the environment. Or maybe you care about stopping war. Or you feel passionate that all schools should have more art and music classes. Or you feel that downloading music on the Internet should be free! Your issue should reflect who you are and what you care about.

Persuade With a Classic Structure

In a speech where you’re trying to persuade someone, the classic structure is called “Problem-Solution.” In the first part of your speech you say, “Here’s a problem, here’s why things are so terrible.” Then, in the second part of your speech you say, “Here’s what we can do to make things better.” Sometimes it helps to persuade people if you have statistics or other facts in your speech. And sometimes you can persuade people by quoting someone else that the audience likes and respects.

Simplify

After you’ve written a first draft of your speech, go back and look for words you can cut. Cutting words in the speech can make your points more clear. One speechwriter for a U.S. Senator has a sign above her desk that says: “Fewer Words = Clearer Point.” It helps her remember to always simplify a speech by cutting out words.

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