While there’s no substitute for putting the hours in to fashion a great speech, there are plenty of things you can do to make the whole process a bit easier.
These are my top tips. And if you’ve got any tried-and-trusted techniques of your own, do please let me know…
1. Eliminate any uncertainty
The single biggest drain on your time will probably be caused by your own uncertainty…
It could be uncertainty about the event and the audience, or even about how your speech fits into the overall programme of events. Perhaps you’re feeling unsure about your key takeaway message, or your preferred style of delivery.
So make sure you confront all your uncertainties and find the answers you need as part of your speechwriting preparations.
2. Delegate the research
If you’ve got the staff, and if they’ve got the time, let them take some of the weight off your shoulders.
No matter how well you know your subject, research is still an essential part of the speechwriting process.
Your potential lines of research will range from industry information to information about the event, e.g.
- What are some of the latest developments in your industry?
- What are the doom-mongers saying? And how do you challenge that?
- Who else is speaking at the event?
- Who’s going to be in the audience?
3. Stick to realisable objectives
Don’t overestimate how much content you need
And if you’re the sort of person who’s happy ‘riffing’ on your subject, you might even need less content than you think.
It’s better to leave an audience wanting more. That way they’re more likely to get in touch after the event.
4. Be the audience
Challenge everything you write to the ‘so what’ test...
So what if you’ve been in business for 100 years? So what if you’ve got a new product? So what if you’ve taken on extra staff?
Drag everything back to your audience and what’s in it for them. Do whatever you can to make what you say interesting and relevant.
5. Reach out to people
A good speech can keep an audience involved in several ways. One of the easiest ways is simply to make little ‘connections’ in the audience. Try to look people in the eye as you talk. Let your gaze scan the room as much as possible so that all sections of your audience feel included.
To help you remember to do this, write yourself some reminders into the margins of your speech.
6. Write in your stage directions
It definitely helps to write it pauses, asides, and even ad libs – so long as you practise them so that they sound natural
7. Write it like you say it
Don’t bother changing the way you write. That’ll only slow you down. And it’ll make your speech sound less convincing.
Your audience wants to hear your insights delivered your way.
8. Repeat key points
This is your platform and you’ve got an attentive audience, so don’t leave them in any doubt as to your main messages.
If something is really worth saying, the chances are, it’s worth saying again.
And maybe even again!
9. Finish it, leave it, review it.
Good speeches get better with time. Whether you assemble your content it bit by bit, or crack it out in a flurry of activity, your speech will still need more work at a later date.
You’ll inevitably find mistakes, unnecessary repetitions, bits that are hard to deliver convincingly, and plenty of sections that you’ll just want to refine.
10. Find a way of writing speeches that works for you.
- Do you prefer to let ideas come to you over time? Then carry a notebook with you or record ideas into your phone, so you can put them all together later.
- Do you prefer to plan your speech out before you start writing?
- Then use bullet point lists of key points to help guide you. Or use mind-mapping techniques. Or big sheets of paper to formulate your ideas
- Do you prefer to write in very controlled periods of time? Some writers like to shut themselves away for an hour at a time and just write. Having a time limit can be a great aid to creativity.