Some of us are naturals at public speaking, whereas others get stage fright or turn into a nervous wreck.
Regardless of how good or confident you are at giving a speech, if you are presenting to five people or 5,000, without a foolproof plan you are likely to come unstuck.
Even the most experienced public speakers such as politicians have a script from which to read.
So how do you write a compelling speech that everyone is the room is going to want to listen to from start to finish?
Just like a well-written article, a well-delivered speech should follow a simple structure that gets all of your key points across using short words and sentences, avoiding technical jargon.
Construct it in the same way you were told to write an easy at school: with an introduction middle and ending.
Write down some short prompts on memory cards, but not a full speech, to refer to if necessary, so that it flows and sounds natural.
Take into account the context of the event, why you are speaking, who the audience is and what kind of language will resonate with them.
Here are the five components you need to make an award-winning speech:
1) Start with a story
First of all, open with a line welcoming your audience.
Then you want to get them on your side straight away with an ice-breaker.
It shows your human side, and if you can raise a laugh or two, all the better.
Once you have loosened up and engaged them, begin the main narrative with an interesting story.
It could be a memorable personal experience or one that has been recounted to you, a current news story or a fictional story.
Tell your story as simply and clearly as possible, as if you were recalling it to your friends, explaining its relevance or why it matters to your listeners.
Think about the setting and characters involved, the challenge they faced and how they dealt with it, adding timing and tension for effect.
Use analogies or metaphors to illustrate your points further.
Frame it by using a brief visualisation, asking a question for the audience to consider, calling for a show of hands to get a consensus on a particular subject or issue, sharing a powerful quote or poem, or reading out a bold headline or statement.
2) Present your argument clearly
Usually when you give a speech it’s with the purpose of presenting your case.
So make your argument as compelling as possible, using logic and clarity, hooking your audience from the first word and taking them on a journey with you.
This could be by using an attention-grabbing or provocative statement, or a startling fact that you are going to set out to prove or disprove.
Pause to give your audience time to digest what you have just said and consider it properly.
3) Back it up
Once you have presented your argument, you need to back it up with evidence, factual or otherwise.
Select three to five supporting points that will give your argument validity.
Use one fact, figure, quote or piece of anecdotal evidence for each point that is easy to remember and convinces your audience that what you are saying is true and stands up to scrutiny.
Don’t use any more than five points because your listeners are likely to tune out.
Also, visual aids can be invaluable to illustrate your point, but be careful not to rely too heavily on them.
To be balanced, you also need to provide a counter argument for your audience to ponder.
4) Give a clear call to action
Now that you have presented the problem, you have to offer a solution.
That includes outlining the next step, apportioning responsibility and what needs to be done to overcome the particular challenge.
Remember that less is more, with the optimal attention span lasting 18 minutes, so keep your calls to action concise.
5) Sum up what you have said
Finally, you need to wrap up your speech with a closing statement that returns to your opening line to reinforce the point and leave a lasting impression on your audience.
Leave five minutes at the end for questions and answers from the audience.
Remember that the best speeches are those that are remembered and last longest in the memory.
Get in touch
- Need help with preparing for a big speech? Give me a call on +44 (0)7949 590213 or email firstname.lastname@example.org