After teaching and coaching public speaking for several years, I’ve noticed that to many students, speech content development is much harder than speech delivery. After some class periods of training and practice, most students can make significant progress in eye contact, gesture, posture and voice (pitch, speed, volume, etc.). However, their speech content does not show the same degree of improvement.
This is partially because speech content is related to one’s writing skills, which usually require more learning and practice to develop and improve. Another reason is the higher level of creativity involved in writing than in speech delivery.
When you prepare a speech, you should always ask yourself how to write the speech to engage your audience. While it is impossible to give a one-size-fits-all formula for writing an awesome speech, there are five crucial qualities you should keep in mind to ensure your speech is interesting and engaging.
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1. Be audience-centered.
Whatever the content it covers, the needs of the audience are the speech’s first priority. To give a speech is not just to say your words, it’s about giving a message to be heard. Knowing who your audience will be can help you better understand their needs and interests. For example, if you are talking about global warming, you might use different wording and examples when you talk to elementary students vs. college students.
2. Have a core message.
What is your take-home message? When someone asks what your speech is about—that’s the one sentence you tell them. If the audience can only remember one thing from your speech, what do you hope that is? Maybe it’s a guidance, a direction, or an inspiration.
3. Have a clear structure
Even if you have great ideas for your speech, if it is not organized in a clear, coherent manner, your speech will sound like rumbling. Your audience can easily get lost somewhere during the speech.
One way to make sure your content is well-organized is to create an outline first. A speech should have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Structure your speech logically. Make sure you have clear transitions between main points.
4. Use storytelling
Storytelling is a great way to influence others and a key to forming emotional connections and building trust. Tell stories or give examples to drive your point home. Stories can trigger more interests than data or conceptual statements alone. People are more likely to remember a message told through stories.
For example, instead of merely telling people the importance of positive thinking, tell the audience a personal story about—maybe how positive thinking helped you finished your first Marathon. An effective story can make what you say more memorable.
5. Use appropriate language
When you prepare your speech script, avoid complicated words and sentence structures because they may confuse the audience. Use language that is familiar both to yourself and to your audience.
Use vivid concrete words that will help your audience to visualize what you are talking about. For example, instead of simply telling people you used to living in a very old building, tell them you lived in a one-story house with a creaking door and peeling wall of plaster. It creates a vivid image in the audience mind.
To write a speech that is compelling and memorable is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work. Stick to those tips when you write your next speech, and you will soon see results.