Whether it’s for school, work, or something else, knowing how to write a speech is a crucial skill. It requires a thorough understanding of your target audience, a mastery of the art of rhetoric, as well as a well-constructed outline for you to follow.
- The Basics of Good Speech Writing
- How to Make a Speech Outline
- Steps on How to Write a Speech
- How to End Your Speech
- In Summary
- Top Speech Writing Tips
- Classic Speeches for You to Refer To
In this article, we’ll provide you with all the necessary skills for writing effective, high-quality speeches. So, if you’d like to know how to write a talk that’s guaranteed to grab the attention of your audience, stick around!
The Basics of Good Speech Writing
When writing a speech, there are a few questions you should stop to ask yourself first. These questions can be broken up into four categories:
- Why questions — e.g., “Why am I giving this talk?”
- Who questions — e.g., “Who is this talk for?”
- What questions — e.g., “What should I include in my speech?”
- How questions — e.g., “How much content should I include?”
In this section, we’ll provide you with a few examples of such questions and explain why they’re so important to consider when thinking about how to create a speech. If you don't have time, but understand the assigment, you can ask us for urgent speech writing services.
Asking why questions helps you to determine what the purpose of your speech is. This is vital knowledge, as it will help you figure out what to include in your talk and how you should deliver it. Ask yourself:
- Why am I giving this talk?
- Why is the information in this speech important to my audience?
- Why do I want to give this talk and what can I gain from doing so?
For example, imagine you’re trying to write a speech to get nominated for a position. In this scenario, the purpose of your talk is clear: you are trying to write a piece that will persuade others to vote for you. The information in your speech is important to your listeners because it will help them to make an informed decision.
Thinking about your talk from this angle will make it easier for you to determine what you need to include in your outline.
Who questions can provide some further clarification on what to include in your speech and how to deliver it. Considering these questions can help you determine what type of language and tone is appropriate for your talk. Examples of such questions include:
- Who are my listeners and who do they represent?
- What do I know about my audience?
- Who do I represent?
Let’s consider another example. Imagine that you are attending a job interview and are asked to prepare a short presentation for the interview panel. In this scenario, you represent yourself, but your listeners represent the company you’d like to work at. To secure the job you’d do well to find out all you can about the business so that you can cater the contents of your presentation to them.
Furthermore, effective speech-writing should always take tone into account. In the context of a job interview, for example, you’ll want to make sure that you maintain a formal but friendly tone throughout.
Asking what questions helps you to figure out what the contents of your talk should be when making a speech. Approach these questions with the why and who of your talk at the forefront of your mind:
- What is my central point or argument?
- What points will I make to back up my point?
- What information should I include and at what level of complexity?
- What type of language should I use in my speech?
- What will my audience take away from my talk?
To take another example, imagine that you are preparing to present a talk to your college class and that your professor has set you the task of defending a particular argument.
Before you begin drafting your outline, you should first give your argument some serious thought. Make sure that you understand it fully before going any further. Next, consider what arguments you will present to back up your point, making sure that they clearly relate to your central thesis and neatly fit together.
Also, consider what type of language you should use. When delivering an academic talk to a group of students, you can use specialist language that you wouldn’t be able to use with a layman. A certain degree of informality may be permissible, but you should try to keep your talk serious and to the point.
The final type of question you should ask when writing a great speech is the how question. When you ask yourself the following, you should find that you know exactly how to tackle your talk:
- How long should my talk be?
- How much content do I need to include?
- How do I tailor my speech to my audience?
- How many PowerPoint slides should my presentation contain (if applicable)?
- How should I present myself?
Hopefully, you’ve already considered the why, who, and what of your talk. The answers you’ve come up with so far will help you here.
Let’s return to our previous example. Your professor may have given you a set amount of time for your presentation—say, ten minutes. Taking that into account, you should determine how much information you should include in your talk, making sure that your speech is informative and educational without being overwhelming.
Knowing that you’re presenting to your classmates, you may think about how you can relate to them. What are they most likely to respond to in a presentation? How can you cater your speech to them?
By asking yourself these questions—why, who, what, and how—you ensure that your talk is effective, appropriate, and well-constructed. That’s why this step is so important when thinking about how to write a great speech.
How to Make a Speech Outline
Now that we’ve considered the first fundamental steps of speech-writing, we’ll now explain how to make a speech outline.
There are many different ways to write a speech; ultimately, how you decide to structure your presentation will differ depending on the context and the overall length of the talk. However, the most popular speech structure is:
- 15% introduction
- 70% body
- 15% conclusion
The body of your speech is where you will present your argument to the audience, so it makes sense that it would be the longest part of your talk. That being said, don’t neglect your introduction and conclusion just because they’re shorter; they still play an extremely important role in any speech.
Consider the Attention Span of Your Audience
Before thinking about the various steps on how to write a speech, you should first determine how long your presentation will be. Consider the attention span of your listeners, which usually is about 18-20 minutes. Think about how you can stimulate their interest to ensure they stick with you for the duration.
The length of a speech depends on the context and purpose of your talk. Most of the time, however, you should aim to be as concise as possible, looking for ways to effectively make your point without droning on and on for ages.
Work to Hold Your Audience’s Attention
When delivering your presentation, be aware of your delivery. You may have an excellent short speech planned, but if you present it in a monotonous, boring tone of voice, your audience will still have a difficult time sitting through it. To that end, keep in mind the following:
- Project your voice. When speaking to a large audience, this is especially necessary. If people have to strain to hear you, it’s unlikely they’ll pay much attention to you.
- Alter your pitch. Avoid speaking in a monotonous tone; rather, adjust your pitch to emphasize your points and command attention from your listeners.
- Be conscious of your speed. On the one hand, speaking too slowly can be boring and off-putting; on the other hand, you can easily lose your audience if you speak too quickly. Try to find a balance.
Steps on How to Write a Speech
Once you’ve decided how long to make your speech, it’s time to get planning. But how do you write a speech, exactly?
The process can seem daunting. However, if you take things one step at a time, you’ll find that writing a compelling talk is very doable. It just takes some careful thought, planning, and a strong knowledge of your subject matter.
In some ways, writing a speech is not dissimilar to writing a story. For example, you still need a beginning, middle, and end—an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Here, we’ll help you plan out each of these three parts.
First, we’ll explain how to start writing a speech. Like any piece of writing, be it an essay, short story, or dramatic script, the first thing you need is a good opening.
An introduction to a speech needs a few key elements. It must introduce your topic, explain what the thesis of your argument is, and pique the audience’s interest with a hook. Additionally, in some situations, you may need to explain who you are and why you are giving this talk.
In the video below, you can see for yourself an example of an attention-grabbing, compelling opening. Here are a few things the presenter does you might want to emulate in your speech:
- Includes a personal anecdote. This demonstrates why he feels able to give a speech on this topic, while also creating a bond between Urban and the audience. His introduction is entertaining and sympathetic, drawing in the audience’s interest.
- Transitions to the topic. After the anecdote, Urban explains what his relationship is to the topic of procrastination now. He uses this to lead into his thesis statement.
- Includes a clear thesis statement. Based on his previous experience, Urban posits that the brains of procrastinators work differently from those of non-procrastinators. The audience can safely assume the rest of the speech will deal with this.
There are a few things you should avoid in a speech introduction. Here are a few commonly-used lines that you should steer clear of:
- “I get a bit nervous about public speaking, so I’m sorry if that comes across.” Many people are nervous about public speaking, but you don’t need to draw your audience’s attention to that fact! Doing so will only make any mistakes or slip-ups more obvious.
- I know that I stand between you and hometime, so I’ll be as quick as possible.Avoid making self-deprecating comments like this. If you don’t believe that your presentation is worth your time, then why should your listeners?
- “We’re running a little overtime, but I’ll try and whizz through this.” Don’t make your audience feel like you’re trying to rush through your presentation. If you do have limited time, be aware of this fact, and try to be as concise as possible.
- “Unfortunately, I didn’t have as much time as I’d like to get this ready.” Again, avoid such self-deprecating comments. Your audience will have little faith in you if you come out with something like this. Additionally, you should have taken the necessary time to prepare in the first place!
- “I’m not an expert in this field, so I don’t feel prepared to talk about …” If you don’t believe you’re qualified to speak on a topic, then your audience will wonder why they have to listen to you in the first place. It can be tempting to downplay your knowledge and experience to seem humble, but this can have a seriously adverse effect.
The body of your speech is where you will present your main argument or point, backing it up with all the research you’ve done in preparation for your talk. As such, this is the part of your speech that will take up the largest amount of time.
When planning this part of your talk, make sure that all your arguments and pieces of evidence are laid out in a logical, clear manner. If your speech is a confusing jumble of half-finished thoughts and random facts and figures, you won’t get anywhere with your audience. Rather, the information you present should be structured in an organized way.
Additionally, be sure not to fall into the trap of rambling: for one thing, you likely have a limited amount of time in which to deliver your presentation; for another, remember that your audience doesn’t have unlimited patience! Make sure that your points are concise and understandable, and avoid going on long, meandering digressions.
Finally, one last speech-writing tip for composing the body of your talk is to keep things simple and memorable. For example, rather than rattling off a bunch of numbers and statistics, consider illustrating your point by using a story or metaphor. This will not only help clarify your argument but will also make your speech far more memorable.
For some more ideas, check out the below video to see an example of a truly great speech body! Keep an eye out for the following:
- Well-organized thought process. After introducing the idea of the “7 deadly sins of speaking,” Treasure talks the audience through them. He handles each of these sins one at a time, clearly signposting when he is about to consider the next.
- Clear. Treasure carefully explains each of the “7 deadly sins of speaking,” explaining uncommon terms like “dogmatism” in a simple way that’s easy for the audience to understand.
- Concise. While Treasure explains each of the sins carefully and thoroughly, he doesn’t ramble. His points are short and to the point, just as yours should be.
At last, we come to the conclusion of your talk. Don’t think that just because you’ve now presented all your arguments you can just leave your audience in the lurch! Now’s your chance to tie everything up neatly together and make sure that you leave your listeners with a lasting impression.
When it’s time to plan for your conclusion, make sure you:
- Summarize your main points. Identify the cornerstones of your argument and briefly recap them to your audience. This will remind them of how you arrived at your final point.
- Restate your argument. Now is your chance to drive home the main point of your speech. This will ensure that you leave a lasting impact on the audience and their point of view.
- Keep it brief. Remember, your conclusion should only be about 15% of your speech. Now’s not the time to introduce new information or go on lengthy rambles. A short, punchy conclusion is more effective.
If you’d like a few more tips on writing a speech conclusion, check out the video below. That way, you can see for yourself what an effective speech conclusion sounds like. In particular, look out for the presenter’s:
- Use of a quotation. Adichie finishes with a quotation from American author Alice Walker. This helps to give her own ideas authority, but also further illustrates the point she is making.
- Reference to her own life. Adichie’s speech is about storytelling and the impact it can have on communities and on humanity as a whole. But it is also about her own deeply personal experience as an African writer. By returning to this idea, she encourages us to connect with her and see from her point of view.
- Thought-provoking final statement. The speaker’s final sentence is bound to stick with the audience, providing them with much to think about throughout the day. Can you incorporate a similar “mic drop” moment?
How to End Your Speech
You may still wonder how to write a good short speech conclusion. With so many different methods out there, it can be difficult to isolate the one that is most effective for your talk.
Here are a few different types of speech endings for you to consider:
- Quotation close. Using a famous quotation from an influential celebrity or historical figure can help cement your point, especially when that figure is known for being an expert in your field. This technique will catch your audience’s attention, and will also lend a bit more weight to your argument.
- Bookend close. This technique involves referring back to an opening statement, effectively looping back to the beginning of your speech. You may simply repeat the statement, or make some modifications to it to illustrate the impact of your argument.
- Open question. Yet another effective technique, asking an open question encourages your audience to continue thinking about your argument long after they’ve gone away.
After concluding your talk, you might finish with a Q&A session to get your audience involved, provide a key message, refer to the opening impact statement or perhaps a simple thank you will be enough. The great ways to complete the speech are also a call to action and ending on an up.
So, what makes a speech a speech? And how do you write an effective one? In short:
A speech should have an introduction that introduces your ideas; a body that builds upon them in a logical, satisfying way; and a conclusion that brings everything together. Make sure to use transitional statements between arguments to ensure your speech flows naturally.
Top Speech Writing Tips
Still not feeling entirely confident? This section should help; here, we’re going to discuss a few more speech-writing techniques you can employ to make sure your talk is one to remember:
- Keep your introduction less than one paragraph or one double-spaced page long. Your introduction is important, yes, but you shouldn’t spend too much time on it.
- Split your time appropriately. Remember, your introduction and conclusion should both be 15% of your talk with your body taking up the remaining 70%. Keep this in mind to make sure you give each section the right amount of attention.
- Read over your text and try to retell it. This will help you memorize your points and ensure that they all make sense. Also, try to incorporate the strategies of ethos, pathos, and logos.
- Write as you speak. This might mean using shorter sentence structures to ensure you get your argument across clearly or using simple vocabulary so that you don’t lose your audience. You might also include more informal, colloquial phrases and limit pronoun use. Anyway, don’t overuse statistics and quotations.
- Repeat important points and buzzwords. This will help you craft a truly memorable talk, emphasizing your points and ensuring that your audience will be able to recall them weeks, months, or even years later.
- Use transition statements and summaries. Transition statements can be used effectively to signal a change in topic or direction, making it easier for your audience to follow along. Likewise, summarizing your points will make it easier for your listeners to keep up with your argument.
Different Types of Speeches
There are many different types of speeches, all of which require their own approach. Some of the main types of speech include:
- Entertaining speeches: An orator delivering an entertaining speech aims to amuse and entertain their audience. Usually, these types of speeches are delivered on special occasions.
- Informative speeches: The point of an informative speech is to inform one’s audience about something, whether that thing is a person, place, event, object, or something else. When thinking about what to write a speech about when you aim to inform, be sure you don’t slip into persuasive rhetoric instead.
- Demonstrative speeches: A demonstrative speech explains how to complete a particular task. An example of this would be a businessperson showing their colleagues how to use a piece of software. If you need, you can order one with ease.
- Persuasive speeches: As the name suggests, the point of a persuasive speech is to persuade. An orator delivering this type of speech may wish to alter the attitudes, behaviors, or opinions of their listeners.
- Motivational speeches: People use talks of this type to try and inspire people to make a change in their life. They might be used by an employer to encourage their staff, or by activists to inspire people to help in their cause.
- Impromptu speeches: An impromptu speech is delivered without any prior planning. For the inexperienced orator, these are without a doubt the most challenging.
- Oratorical speeches: This type of narrative speech is most often delivered as part of a special address; for example, at a graduation ceremony. Generally, oratorical speeches are short and inspiring.
- Debate speeches: These types of speeches are used during debates to argue your point. They are highly persuasive, making use of facts and figures to back up the speaker’s argument. We can help you write spech homework debate class.
- Forensic speeches: A forensic speech aims to clarify and judge past actions. They are mostly associated with legal discourse, also we help with forensic homework.
- Special occasion speeches: Whether at a wedding or birthday, or a more sober event like a funeral, a special occasion speech helps bring everyone together to mark the occasion. If the event revolves around a specific person or people, you might include stories about them.
- How-to speeches: Similarly to a demonstrative speech, a how-to speech explains how to do something. To write one of these, you must have a full understanding of the topic.
Classic Speeches for You to Refer To
If you find yourself writing a speech, example talks can help you to create a piece of truly wonderful narration. We’ve already shown you a few examples of masterful speeches, but we have a few more to share. So, if you’ve ever wondered, “What great talks will help me write a speech of my own?” look no further.
- “Speech of Alexander the Great,” Alexander the Great.
- “Resignation Speech,” George Washington.
- “The Gettysburg Address,” Abraham Lincoln.
- “I Have a Dream,” Martin Luther King Jr.
- “We Shall Fight on the Beaches,” Winston Churchill.
- Carnegie, Dale. The Art of Public Speaking: The Original Tool for Improving Public Oration. New York: Clydesdale Press, 2018.
- Cutrara, Joanna. “If You Want to Write a Great Speech, Here’s How to Do It.” Grammarly Blog, May 22, 2019. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/how-to-write-a-speech/
- Dugdale, Susan. “How to write a good speech in 7 steps.” Write-Out-Loud, September 11, 2022. https://www.write-out-loud.com/howtowritespeech.html
- Ehrlich, Henry. Writing Effective Speeches. New York: Reed Business Press, 2004.
- Gallo, Carmine. Talk like Ted: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds. London: Pan Books, 2022.
- Indeed Editorial Team. “How To Write a Motivational Speech (With Example).” Indeed, December 7, 2021. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-write-motivational-speech
- John, Steven, & Davey, Andrew. “Here are 10 famous speeches that continue to stand the test of time.” The Manual, November 2, 2022. https://www.themanual.com/culture/famous-speeches-from-history/
- McKay, Brett, & McKay, Kate. “The 35 Greatest Speeches in History.” Art of Manliness, August 24, 2020. https://www.artofmanliness.com/character/knowledge-of-men/the-35-greatest-speeches-in-history/
- Schmitt, Jeff. “10 Keys to Writing a Speech.” Forbes, July 16, 2013.https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffschmitt/2013/07/16/10-keys-to-writing-a-speech/
- “Stand up, speak out: The practice and ethics of public speaking.” Stand Up, Speak Out: The Practice and Ethics of Public Speaking. https://saylordotorg.github.io/text_stand-up-speak-out-the-practice-and-ethics-of-public-speaking/