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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Speaking and Presentations


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, isn't it?

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 to you.

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, many re-writes.

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 speech organization.

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 it anyhow.

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

Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2005, 2008 All rights reserved.

This article covers only one small part of the mental game. A complete mental training program includes motivation and goal-setting, pre-event mental preparation, post-event review and analysis, mental strengthening, self-regulation training, breath control training, mental rehearsal, concentration training, pressure-proofing, communication training, confidence-building, breaking through mental barriers, slump prevention, mental toughness training, flow training, relaxation training, psych-out proofing and media training.

For a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities you need an assessment instrument that identifies your complete mental strengths and weaknesses. For a free, easy-to-take 66-item presentation skills assessment tool you can score right on the spot, visit This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating your own mental training program, or as the basis for a program you undertake with Bill Cole, MS, MA to improve your mental game. This assessment would be an excellent first step to help you get the big picture about your mental game of speaking and giving presentations.

Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, 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

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