The art of effective or persuasive speech writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques can be very useful when being adopted for speech writing.
Speech writing 101: Speech topic
Having to choose a topic for your speech may drive you into panic mode. On top of having to speak in front of a crowd, you are expected to come up with a topic that the audience will find both interesting and learn a thing or two from. This, however, doesn’t have to be a scary thing. Think about it for a second. You have the freedom to give a speech on any topic you choose! No limits! Of course, it might sound strange at first, but the more you descend into the idea, the more you realize that you can use the situation to your advantage.
Before you get into it, you should know that there is no such thing as the best speech topic. It is impossible to find a subject that interests every audience at every event.
Tips for an interesting speech topic
1. The occasion
The occasion can guide you on the topic you want to speak about. You should choose a topic depending on the occasion of the event. That is, whether the mood is solemn, professional or celebratory among others. You wouldn’t give a sad speech at a wedding because it would appear out of place and downright weird. Consider a topic that relates to the mood and one that is relevant to the occasion.
2. The purpose
Do you want to entertain the audience? Do you want to inform the audience? Or even persuade them about a particular matter. If it is to entertain, you will need to add some humor to your speech and make it funny. If it is to persuade the audience, you will need to provide some reliable evidence to convince them to take action. If it is to inform, you will need to provide relevant facts so that the audience can learn something new about the subject.
3. The audience
The audience is a very important element when selecting a speech topic. After all, they are the ones who have to endure whatever it is you write, so making them a priority when choosing a topic is advisable. You may not know the audience personally, but there are common elements that are present among individuals in any audience. These elements could be the reason why they are all at the same event. Some of them could be; age, gender, education, hobbies or even employment, to name a few.
Other things to consider about the audience are:
• Their level of knowledge and level of education: Consider your audience’s level of knowledge. You wouldn’t give high school students the same speech you would give to college students. They would probably be confused and unable to relate to what you are speaking about.
• The interests of the audience: Keep in mind what interests your audience. Try to relate to them and make a list of all the things your audience cares about.
• Your relationship to the audience: If you have a personal relationship with your audience, then you can use a much lighter and relaxed tone. However, if there is no personal relationship, you will need to use a more different tone and adjust the content if the speech.
Make a list of all the topics that are of interest to the audience so that you can narrow them down as you move forward.
4. Your interests and knowledge
As with any writing, you have to pick a topic that you find interesting. Your passion for the topic will be visible to the audience. Do not pick a topic simply because you think the audience might like it yet you have zero interests regarding it.
You should not pick a topic that you know nothing about. Using the list of topics that interest the audience, you can narrow it down to just a few topics that you are knowledgeable and interested in. This step is all about you as the speaker. If you are sincerely interested in a topic, the whole process of researching, writing and delivering it will be much more pleasant.
5. The relevance of the topic
Another way to come up with a good topic is by researching to see whether there is a topic that is being debated over by the media over and over again. If it is fit for the occasion and it might interest the audience, you should consider using it to your advantage.
Engage in brainstorming to find out whether you can identify a favorable topic. Read through current newspapers and watch the news. You can even use social media to your advantage, as long as the issue is current and relevant.
6. Pick a topic you can comfortably talk about
You should be able to deliver the speech confidently and clearly. The audience should feel like they trust you as an authority regarding the subject. Avoid making a speech about something you do not relate to in any way. The speech aims to give the audience a new understanding of the topic. They should leave the venue with an idea or two about the subject. If you do not relate to the topic in any way, drop it and move on to another one.
You could choose something that relates to your personal experiences if the occasion is right. Just don’t make it too personal because you could end up making the audience uneasy and uncomfortable or the subject could be too emotional for you. It could be about your siblings, parents or a personal struggle that you went through. As long as it relates to the speech it should be perfectly fine.
7. Topics to avoid
You should steer clear of some topics for good reasons. Some topics might offend your audience or just bore them to death. Pick a topic that is not too complex, and that can be explained in a short amount of time. If you pick a complicated topic that requires charts and diagrams, your audience will get bored, and you will lose them.
Also, don’t pick a topic that is so simple that the audience understands it all in just a short time span. They will find you predictable and lose interest altogether. After all, they know what your whole speech is about so the audience won’t need to sit through till the end.
Avoid topics that are too controversial unless the occasion calls for it. You could end up losing your audience especially if they don’t agree with your view of the subject.
Pick a topic that is just right for the audience and you are guaranteed to keep them pinned all the way to the end.
Elements of speech topic summary
1. Consider the occasion
2. Consider the purpose
3. Consider the audience
4. Consider your interests and knowledge
5. The relevance of the topic
6. Pick a topic you can speak about
7. Identify topics to avoid
Now you’ve successfully come up with a suitable title for your speech. What comes next is the writing process.
It will always end up badly when you think that the speech you will be writing about is all about you and the words you’ll be using revolve around what you think. Why I’m I saying this? It's because a proper speech should focus on the end user who is the ultimate person who will decide if your speech deserves attention and time or it’s a waste of time altogether. A speech which is well prepared will always leave the audience more informed and be wishing that the speech could have lasted longer, but 85% of speeches based on research are second-rate speeches which ensure the audience is stuck to their smartphones and unending giggling.
What are the features of speech writing?
The most important aspect of a speech is to ensure that you have left the audience with something worth remembering and also to ensure that you have conveyed your points in a way that is entertaining and not boring whatsoever. Even though speeches are meant to be informative, they should not be the source of tension and a black cloud in the audience hall but rather the speech should ensure that its main aim is to entertain, inform or even persuade the audience regarding a specific point of discussion.
Tips for writing a great speech
1) Ensure that you are striking
Ensure that you leave something memorable when your speech comes to an end. Don’t base your speech on empty words which don’t evoke emotions or surprise, The correct use of idioms, metaphors, and the element of surprise all do wonders when it comes to building blocks of a speech. In the past, many leaders have used these aspects to come up with legendary speeches which are remembered and referred to up to date. For example, Nelson Mandela, John F Kennedy, and even John Regan when he said and I quote
"You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness."
A memorable quote from his speech can be seen to utilize aspects of inclusion. That's where the speech specifies that the audience is part of what is being discussed by the use of “You and me” and it ends with the usage of a metaphor where he says “or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.” This quote was a memorable one, and it was well used as per the speech at that time, but it has left a mark until now in History.
2) Have a Proper Structure
A proper speech has a definite path; meaning, the speech must have a specific plan that the audience can easily follow and understand what is going on. For instance, when you want to persuade your audience as a speaker, then it’s easier to use a problem-solution structure which starts by discussing the problem within 5 minutes or less and by discussing the problem at length. Then, follow up with providing a solution including the advantages of the solution to the audience which will be followed by a call to action meaning something the audience can do with regards to the problem. The same applies to when you want to discuss a contentious area of discussion-you will need to use the residues method which means discussing the solutions presented by partisan parties in depth than at the end giving your solution to the problem without necessarily taking sides. I won’t discuss all the structures here, but as a speaker or being the one giving the speech, you need to provide a clear path to your audience and do not drift from the main topic especially when giving examples since that is the point which most speakers drift and confuse the audience. Drifting when giving a speech will always kill the speech.
3) Don’t Waste the Opening
Your time to read that speech is here, and you walk on the stage with your confidence right and everything check. It’s that time of the hour you have been waiting for and not only you, but the audience also is ready, and everyone is clapping as you hold on to that microphone. Immediately after you are done with the first welcoming message then you suddenly realize that three people have walked out, there is a bit of murmuring, and people have started fiddling with their phones. The audience is doing everything but also closely paying attention to you. The way you will open your speech has a lot to do with the way the audience will react as you move forward with your speech and you can do this the right way by starting with a striking quote, acute silence for seconds or less, a question, facts and statistics, just anything that will steal your audience attention for the time you will be on stage. Enjoy as you move on from the high note and smoothly engaging the audience.
4) Capture the Right Tone
Adopting the right tone for your speech is one of the right things to do even before you determine what you are going to put forward to your listeners. Therefore, before you even start typing; get the right tone for your audience depending on their age, social status and other factors that align with the audience since it’s all about your listeners.
5) End Strong
Your ending determines a lot. In fact, this is what people will talk about immediately they leave that hall door. Therefore your ending should call people to action, and this can be done by ensuring that you end with a memorable quote, recapping your main point and ensuring you have repeated it over and over again. By making sure you have stressed your point or the idea to your audience and making sure that your audience understands how important the main point is then you will ensure that your message is well delivered and you have put a smile on your listeners. That’s when you know that your speech was a success and your audience has a sense of hope and purpose.
6) Keep it Short
This is self-explanatory, and as you understand, no one wants to spend time listening to a particular person for 5 hours, and if I can remember well if a lecturer decided to extend the lecture, then all the students ended up switching off and pulled out their smartphones. There is nothing worse than prolonging something especially a speech. Therefore, ensure that you have a schedule and do not extend your speech. Be concise and to-the-point and avoid drifting from the main point and don’t forget that the time is limited and it’s not your time but your listeners.
Speech writing process steps
1. Be Memorable
2. Have a Structure:
3. Don’t Waste the Opening
4. Strike the Right Tone
5. End Strong
6. Keep it Short
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