There can be various areas of life when you are asked to make a speech. It can be a formal occasion, for work, studying, retirement, promotion, etc., or an informal event, like a wedding, an anniversary, or the birthday of your friend. If you were assigned to do a speech for school, you have to get acquainted with the specific features and requirements for scholarly speeches, and make sure to follow them when preparing your speech.
Steps for Writing a Speech
- Decide on the topic. If you have already been given a general subject, think whether it is necessary to narrow it down to a specific question.
- Think of the audience you will address. Make sure to keep them in mind as you prepare and present your speech. Be certain that the topic of your speech is interesting and useful to the audience for which it is intended.
- Research the area of interest you are planning to address in your speech. Make sure you get acquainted with the major opinions on the issue you are addressing, whether or not you agree with them.
- Sketch out the basic points you want to make, and then develop each of them in a paragraph or so. Try to group the alike.
- Find supporting evidence and factual data for every major point you are planning to make.
- Write an introduction. It does not have to be a lengthy paragraph, just a couple of sentences. You need to start by introducing yourself, if necessary, and the subject you are planning to address. It might also be a smart idea to mention how much time you are planning to take up (so the audience is prepared in advance), and indicate that you will be open for any questions afterwards.
- Sum up with a concluding sentence, generalizing your whole speech. Make sure to thank the audience for its attention at the end.
Three main conditions must be observed when picking a topic for a speech:
- You must be passionate about what you are going to talk about
- You must know your topic well
- You must keep your hand on the pulse of current events and choose those topics that are timely
Make sure to treat difficult topics with all possible caution. While it may seem that talking about a “smart” topic can make it more interesting or significant, actually it happens contrariwise; it doesn’t refer to situations where “smart” topics are what you major in, or feel passionate about. If the topic is too difficult for you, you can find yourself forgetting your arguments, confusing terms, and so on.
The other category of topics you should be extremely careful with is a cluster of controversial issues that have zealous proponents and opponents. Creation or evolution, gay marriage, euthanasia, and other disputable subjects are better to avoid (at least when the speech is held out of the context of the intentional contemplation of these problems) because some part of your audience may not share your views, and ignore or argue with your supporting evidence.
Key Points to Consider
- Follow the same basic structure when making an argument. Start every paragraph from the major point, then go into details and support your idea with factual or statistical information. After that, give a specific example or relate to a real-life situation to keep your thoughts grounded.
- It is important to set the right mood and establish contact with your audience from the first words, so make sure to link your introduction to the general environment and interests of the audience.
- It is a sound idea to practice your speech prior to finalizing it. Do some sort of pre-test activity—ask a friend or two to be your listeners and consider the feedback you receive from them to strengthen your speech and get rid of the weak points.
- Be creative in your ideas, but make sure to keep connected to the topic you are addressing and not drift away from the issue.
- No matter what subject you are addressing, make sure to stay tolerant. Remember, your ideas might be different from those of your listeners, so do not be too bold and adamant in your ideas, no matter how strongly you feel about them.
- Try to be precise and brief. Keeping it short is crucial to making sure you connect with your listeners and don’t lose their attention.
Dos and Don’ts
- Repeating yourself when you try to prove a point. Even your conclusion should not be repetitive of the ideas you talk about throughout your speech.
- Using jargon and slang when you try to connect with your audience.
- Making a long speech. No matter how tempting it seems to include more facts and details to support your ideas, you have to keep within strict time limits if you want your speech to be successfully perceived and taken in by your listeners.
- Being too serious. It is a common mistake to think that a scholarly speech has to be official-like and cannot include any hint of humor.
- Writing a last-minute speech. It is crucial that you prepare your speech in advance. No matter how well-acquainted you think you are with the issue, and how easy it might seem to talk to your peers, simply sketching out some raw ideas will not be enough to make a successful speech. While some people are excellent at improvising, it is still necessary to write your speech ahead of time, let it soak in, and then take a second look at it to see any flaws you might have initially missed.
Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic speech writing tips and rules, you can check out our speech samples to link theory with practice.
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