Do you need to make a speech? This articles discusses different ways on how to write a speech like a pro. I am sharing here various techniques that have greatly helped me over the years in speech writing.
Remember that ultimately written speeches are designed to be spoken, and there is nothing more boring or turn-off as someone who is reciting a text and/or claiming to be or feel something they clearly don’t. We’re not machines. Being authentic will alway prime over form, so it doesn’t matter how great your text is if your delivery is bad.gf
Do write your speech using any of the following technique that you resonate with the most but write it for you and be authentic. The words you write will be truly powerful and impactful if they are a living truth for you.
Two easy speech structures
#1: Position, Action, Benefit
The Position, Action, Benefit approach is very useful when you have to report
findings to people who only have minutes to listen:
- Position: State your position on the question asked.
- Action: Tell which action needs to be taken to implement your suggestion .
- Benefit : Describe the benefit of your position.
If you answer a question using the position, action, benefit approach, your audience members will have all the information they need to make a decision.
#2: Situation, Complication, Question and Answer
This one is another great technique for short speeches, e.g., Table Topics at a Toastmaster meeting:
- Situation – something everyone can agree on.
- Complication – something that has changed, or a challenge or development.
- Question – the question that naturally arises following the complication.
- Answer – usually, your main message.
The PREP formula for slightly longer talks
The general idea of this technique is to give the audience the core message, tell them how you are going to prove it with the three supporting points, prove it, refresh their memory on the three supporting points and related evidence, and finally restate the core message:
Point – Start by identifying the one Point (that’s right, *just one!*) you want to make. Be clear and concise, and get to the core of the issue. When you’re finished speaking, what *one thing* do you want your audience to know, understand, or believe? Put that into words and stop. Don’t try to force feed too much information to your audience at one time. This is your core message.
Reasons – Select the three most compelling pieces of evidence you can find to prove your point. Once again, be clear and concise, and make sure they support the argument you are making in the core message. It is also important to select evidence you can support with objective facts and stories. These are your supporting points #1 thru #3. Do not put them in order of most to least important, rather use them as follows:
- Supporting Point #1 – Create Interest “Wow, I want to hear more about that!”
- Supporting Point #2 – Prove Your Point “The facts, ma’am, just the facts.”
- Supporting Point #3 – Make It Valuable “This will save me tons of time/money/grief/etc.”
Example – For each Supporting Point, craft your message. Include facts, figures, and stories. You should inject three stories, no more, and no more than two stories under any single supporting point. The stories should be brief, easy-to-remember and repeat (for the audience), and they should drive home the message you are delivering. NOTE: You can have two stories on one supporting point and none on another.
Point – Restate your Supporting Points in the same order. Remember the old rule of three: Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em, tell ’em, tell ’em what you told ’em. It is OK to use the same words you used in Step 2. To conclude restate your core message.
Two awesome speech outlines for long talks
#1: Conflict, Decision, Resolution
Below is a process created by Steve Lowell. It’s very very very neat. I encourage you to take a workshop with him if you have the chance:
#2: The Hero’s journey
This particular structure is more for story telling and therefore not as laser-sharp as Steve Lowell’s process (see above), but it is still valuable to know and it has helped me create a few great speeches in the past:
General Advice on How To Write A Powerful Speech
From http://www.speakernetnews.com. Your intro should be at least 70% about the audience and what they’ll learn/benefit from your presentation and no more than 30% about you. The printed material can tell the audience in just a few sentences why you have the credentials to talk on this topic (let’s be honest, no one really cares); after that, get on with what they came to hear. Answer the questions: Why you? Why me? So what? Ensure these questions are answered so the audience is comfortable with you and realize you understand them, and the information is relevant to them and the issues/problems they face
Simple exercise to boost your writing abilities
Here is an interesting exercise to boost your writing creativity:
- First, spend five minutes writing subject-verb-object sentences;
- Then, ten minutes of linking sentences;
- And finally, one long, continuous run-on sentence for twenty minutes.
What about the title? Power words for writing emotional headlines
Words aren’t just strings of alphabets sewn together with ink. They are cues, triggers. When used correctly they can transform an “eh whatever” into “wow that’s it!”
When you are trying to get people to REALLY do when they read or hear the title of your speech is evoke curiosity so fierce that it claws at their mind and forces them to want to come and hear it.
Here are resources you may find useful:
Online tools to test your headlines:
General Tips For Public Speakers
- In case you ever need a teleprompter (it can be useful to practice a presentation and learn to pace yourself), there is a free one at http://sur.ly/o/freetelepromptersoftware.com/AA001290 and another one at www.cueprompter.com.
- Perceptions are everything. Try this: Squeeze yours eyes tight and scrunch your face up as if you are impersonating Ebenezer Scrooge while saying, (using a gruff voice) I can’t believe you just said that to me. Now open your eyes wide like a child who walked into the living room on Christmas morning and saw the biggest, coolest bike with your name on it ,and with a smile on your lips say I can’t believe you just said that to me.
- Group discussion: To the question “Should I use powerpoint to present?” I say this: Don’t care too much about presenting with PPT, but I do recommend using it to prepare because it forces you to better structure your talk. For example, if all of a sudden “they” start late and your 45 min. presentation falls down to 30, you should know exactly what to do because you know how many talking points you normally have and how long each require (because, of course, you practiced and rehearsed your talk many times). Getting to that level is much harder without PPT.
The 6th public speaking secret of the world’s top minds: Laughter
Last, I have to mention – I am a Laughter Consultant by trade and this is a laughter website, you know – that whatever you write about really should include some laughter 🙂 Don’t take yourself (or your topic) too seriously. The brain loves laughter. Give your audience something to smile about. Here is why it works: Laughter lowers defenses, making your audience more receptive to your message. It also makes you seem more likeable, and people are more willing to do business with or support someone they like. (Click here to read more on the benefits of laughter.)
This is of course not a personal opinion. Carmile Gallo in his highly acclaimed book ‘Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets from World’s Top Minds” (2014), devotes the 6th secret on “lightening up with laughter.”
He explains that: “Humor involves some risk and most people don’t have the courage for it, which is why most business presentations are awfully dry and boring. It takes courage to be vulnerable, to poke some good-natured fun at yourself and your topic. The key is to be authentic. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. But if something makes you laugh, there’s a good chance it will make someone else laugh too.”
He also advices against telling jokes in your speech, unless of course you are a comedian. Most TED speakers do not tell jokes. Instead of jokes, they use humorous personal anecdotes and observations.
Here are four simple ways to add more laughter to your speech:
- Anecdotes, Observations, and Personal Stories: Most TED presenters who elicit laughs from the audience tend to relate anecdotal information about themselves or people they know, observations about the world, or personal stories. If something happened to you and you found the humor in it, there’s a good chance others will, too.
- Analogy and Metaphors: An analogy is a comparison that points out the similarities between two different things. It’s an excellent rhetorical technique that helps to explain complex topics. Many popular TED presenters provoke laughter by using analogies. For example: “If you hear an expert talking about the Internet and saying it does this or it will do that, you should treat it with the same skepticism that you might treat the comments of an economist about the economy or a weatherman about the weather.” —Danny Hillis, inventor, TED 2013”
- Quotes: An easy way to get a laugh without being a comedian or telling a joke is to quote somebody else who said something funny. The quotes can be from famous people, anonymous people, or family and friends. TED speakers do this all the time. For example, Carmen Agra Deedy quoted her mother, who said, “I gave shame up with pantyhose—they’re both too binding.”
- Video: Very few people use video clips in presentations, even at TED talks. Video, however, is a very effective way of bringing humor into a presentation: it takes the pressure off you to be funny.
- How they do it: PDF summary of a workshop on happiness
- Dozens of articles on the Development and Structure of Speeches and Other Communications.
- Cheat sheet for public speaking: nine steps to a memorable speech, from preparation to delivery.
- Articles on the Development and Structure of Speeches and Other Communications.
- 100 Top Public Speaking Tips: Master List
- 30 accomplished writers reveal their secrets to productivity.