Ten Top Tips For Writing A Memorable Speech
Bill Cole, MS, MA
When you sit in the audience enjoying a wonderful speech,
the speaker's words seem to all make sense. They seem to be
well-organized and easy to follow. One thought seems to fit
with the next in a tight jig-saw puzzle kind of way. The speech
is logical, interesting, convincing, entertaining and has
a nice flow to it. You seem to be gently and effortlessly
led along by the speaker's words. It's a small slice of heaven,
What we see and hear as effortless speech-making actually
comes from diligent, intelligent, sophisticated speech-writing.
It comes from someone sitting down and crafting a thoughtful,
smart, strategic set of concepts turned into practical tips,
stories and action items. What the audience hears is music
to their ears, almost literally.
Do you have a speech coming up soon? Need to write a talk
that will grab your audience and make them sit on the edge
of their seats? Take a moment to learn these ten essential
elements of speech-writing and you may just give the speech
of your life.
Ten Strategies For Crafting Excellent Speeches
1. Prepare Early. Begin gathering material for your
speech right away. As you learn more about your topic, new
ideas for writing and organizing it will automatically come
2. Be Audience-Centered. Everything you write should
be with the needs of the audience in mind. Aim all your efforts
at helping the audience understand what you are saying.
3. Start At The End First. Write the conclusion of
your talk right away. Decide what you want the audience to
do or to think as a result of your speech. Then write the
talk using that as a guide.
4. Write For The Ear, Not The Eye. Experienced writers
know that every medium and project has its own language, cadence,
style and structure. Don't write the speech to be read. You
need to write your speech so when your audience hears it,
they get it.
5. Make Rough Drafts First And Polish Later. Don't
needlessly pressure yourself by trying to write the perfect
speech at the outset. The best speeches come only after many,
6. Put Your Own Spin On The Material. You may block
your creative juices if you think everything you say has to
be original. Don't worry about being unique, just put your
personal spin on it. The audience wants to hear your personal
point of view.
7. Make Only Three Main Points. It is always tempting
to tell as much as you can about a subject, but this will
confuse and overwhelm your audience. Keep your major points
to three and your audience will find it easier to follow your
8. Craft A Take-away Line. When people can't make a
speaker's session, they ask others who were there, "What did
the speaker talk about?" What they say you said is your take-away
line. You'd like people to walk out with that nugget. It's
like creating street buzz for yourself.
9. Decide The Minimum Your Audience Needs To Know.
What is the very least the audience needs to know about your
topic? What is the most critical? Leave out material that
would be "nice to know". You probably won't have time for
10. Write Using The WIIFM principle. WIIFM is when
your audience responds to your material by asking themselves
"What's In It For Me?" People are really only interested in
material that affects them. After writing any piece of material,
no matter how brilliant, apply the WIIFM principle and judge
if your audience will care about it and use it.
Three Bonus Tips For Writing A Great Speech
1. Write As If You Are Conversing With One Person.
How many times have you felt the speaker was talking directly
only to you? This phenomenon is in part an acting and speaking
technique, but it also stems from how the speech is written.
As you write, picture one person and what you want to say
to them. Then write the speech.
2. Decide What You Want Your Audience To Do Or Think Differently
As A Result Of Your Speech. There is really only one reason
to give a speech. That's to have your audience either make
a change in their thinking or their behavior. Otherwise, what's
the point? Decide what you want for them and then write your
speech around that.
3. Use "Audience-Involvement" Devices. To bring the
audience into your talk and to make sure they are engaged,
craft numerous interactive techniques. These can be questions,
exercises, role plays, verbal quizzes and other ways that
get them actively involved with your material.
So there you have it, ten quick tips (and three bonuses!)
for writing better and more memorable speeches. When you write
your speeches, remember these and your audience will thank
you by giving you their rapt attention.
To learn more about how presentation coaching can help you
become a better, more confident speaker, visit Bill Cole,
MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach at www.mentalgamecoach.com/Services/PresentationCoaching.html.
Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2005, 2008 All rights reserved.
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Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness
and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching
Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports.
He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published
book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive
article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
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