Speech writing is a talent, and like playing basketball, it is a fact that some people will do it better naturally than others. However, exactly like playing sports of any kind, it is also something that that you can get better at with practice. In this article I am going to explore several techniques as to how you can improve your speech writing abilities, and also how to approach writing a speech for ceratin different circumstances. Whether it be for a wedding, where perhaps you are the best man, or for an important business meeting where you really need to impress.
First though the good news!
The good news is that you are already a ‘speech writer’. You just don't know it yet! Ok. What do I mean? Simple. The truth is that you have already spoken to people before. You have already been constructing dialogue long before the harrowing thought of having to write it down and deliver it came into the equation. You speak to your friends, family and work colleagues (though maybe not your boss!) without having to pre-plan everything you say. You just react. Well, the good news is that writing a speech is not really any different from that. It simply takes the process one step further along and has you writing it down.
Where the panic sometimes comes in is that to write a great speech there are three further elements that are useful to consider. The first of these is empathy. Speech writing is an empathetic medium. It is concerned both with connecting with yourself, but also with your audience. In a sense it is all about building bridges. And the best speeches are always going to be where the audience empathise with you or your message. In a way it is a bit like being a surfer. As you deliver a great speech it is as though you are riding a wave of emotions, both internally, but also in the mind of your listeners. And the more engaged they are with the message and sentiment of your speech, the more they will connect with it and get benefit from it.
Empathy is something however that can be taught. The ‘trick’ is trigger points. And no, I don't mean that you should shoot your audience to make them like you! ;) No. What you have to realise is that every great speech has trigger points. Moments where the speech builds to a crescendo, and a memorable line or sentiment is delivered. What this means for your speech writing is that you should tailor the speech so that every so often the speech has these points. It could be a moment of great passion. Like in Martin Luther Kings ‘I Have a Dream’ speech where he uttered those lines. Or moments of comedy perhaps if you are delivering a best mans speech. Remember to write them in.
The second element of a great speech that you must have is momentum. Speeches are defined by the momentum they create. In the same way that a good book has a beginning, a middle and an end, a great speech is one where the tension is building until the end before being released. The audience should never feel this lapse, because it is in the building of this tension that you create the momentum that drives the speech forward and keeps people interested. This is one of the key failings with most speeches, namely that they lack direction. They end up being a convoluted collection of anecdotes, but without a driving momentum. Every speech must have a message.
The third key element is Practice. Never underestimate the value of repetition. Drill that speech so far into your head that you could deliver it under any pressure. It was said of the Romans - ‘Their drills were like bloody wars. And their wars were like bloody drills’. The point is that they practiced! They didn't control an empire for over 1000 years for nothing. And the same is true of your speech writing.
So, get busy. Get writing. Speak with Passion. Empathise with your audience. Draw them in. Deliver trigger points throughout. Build to a crescendo, and remember to practice. It makes perfect.
Want more information about writing a KILLER speech? Then read our speech writinghow to guide at http://www.anecdote.org Where we have a world of writing resources at your fingertips, including Topics for Persuasive Writing information.