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A great speech is impactful and engaging. It should eloquently and clearly express your ideas.
Whatever the topic, a good speech should showcase your authority on a topic and demonstrate excellent communication and leadership skills.
Many people don't know how to write a speech, so the process seems daunting. But there are a few best practices and tips that can make the writing process easier.
In this article, we’ll discuss some best practices to help you write an effective speech that engages and captures your audience.
9 Engaging Speech Writing Tips
Public speaking can be nerve-racking. However, having a well-written speech can decrease some of that anxiety.
Even if you’ve never written a speech before, there are still best practices you can follow.
An engaging speech should be clear, to the point, and follow a logical order. But how do you ensure your speech follows these criteria? Follow these nine engaging speech writing tips.
Know Your Audience
Analyze your target audience to improve the effectiveness of your speech because different audiences will have different expectations.
Consider your audience’s age, level of understanding, attitudes, and what they expect to take away from your speech, then tailor your message accordingly.
For example, if your audience members are teenagers, it’s unlikely that references to the ’70s will be effective.
Start With a Clear Purpose
Decide on the main point of your speech, and make sure all your content supports that point. Choose a topic that fits the following criteria:
A topic that is relevant to your audience
A topic you’re excited about
A topic you have reasonable knowledge about
Organize Your Ideas
Use a speech outline to organize your thoughts and ideas logically.
Identify the introduction, body, and conclusion of your speech to help you stay focused and make your speech easier to follow.
Use Strong, Clear Language
Choose your words carefully, and use simple language that is easy to understand. Avoid jargon or technical terms that your audience may not be familiar with.
Again, your word choice will depend on your audience. For example, you’ll want to steer clear of slang when speaking to an older, conservative crowd.
Speech transitions are words and phrases that allow you to move smoothly from one point to another. Use transitional words and phrases like “besides” to help your audience follow your thought process and understand how your points are connected.
Add Variety to Speech
A speech that is monotonous or lacks variety may cause your audience to lose interest.
Including a variety of elements in your speech, such as anecdotes, examples, and visual aids, can help keep your audience engaged and interested.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice your speech out loud to ensure it flows well and you’re comfortable with the material. Read your speech in front of the mirror or before someone you trust to give you critical feedback. Note the points for improvement, and incorporate them into how you deliver your speech.
End With a Strong Conclusion
How would you like to leave your audience members: inspired, informed, or mesmerized? Aim to end your speech on a high note. Summarize your main points, and leave your audience with a memorable takeaway.
Edit and Revise
Proofread and revise your speech to ensure it’s well written and error free. Use a grammar checker, such as ProWritingAid, to correct any grammar issues. You’ll also get suggestions on how to improve your sentence structures and transitions.
How to Write a Good Speech Introduction
The introduction can make or break your speech. It’s where you grab your audience’s attention to keep them engaged and state the purpose of your speech.
An introduction also gives you the opportunity to establish your credibility. You should aim to give your audience a reason to listen to the rest of the speech rather than tuning out.
Here are some tips on how to create a positive first impression.
Start With a Hook
Begin your introduction with a hook that will grab your audience’s attention and make them want to listen. There are several options for a hook:
A personal anecdote
Reference to a current or historical event
When thinking of an attention grabber, consider how appropriate and relevant it is to your audience and the purpose of the speech. For example, if you’re giving a speech to an older audience, you can make a historical reference that they can easily relate to.
Provide context by giving your audience some background information about the topic of your speech. This will help them understand the importance of what you are talking about and why they should care.
State Your Thesis
Clearly and concisely state the main point or purpose of your speech. Your thesis should be easy to follow and clearly outline the main argument and your stance. This will give your audience a clear understanding of what they can expect to learn from your presentation.
Preview Your Main Points
Give your audience a sense of the structure of your speech by briefly outlining the key points or arguments you will be making. They’ll know what to expect, and your speech will be easier to follow.
Keep It Short
Your introduction should be concise and to the point, so don’t spend too much time on it. It’s important to keep your speech brief, and avoid including unnecessary or unrelated information.
The goal is to engage and interest your audience, not bore them, so aim for a few well-chosen words rather than a lengthy introduction. Aim for your introduction to be about 10-15% of the total length of your speech.
What Are the Different Speech Types?
A speech is just like any other piece of writing. You’ll need to identify your purpose, audience, and intention and then write accordingly. There are many types of speeches, and each type has its own expectations.
Let’s look at some of the most popular speeches and how to write them.
How to Write a Short Speech
Short speeches may be the most tedious to write because of how condensed and concise the information has to be. However, if you ever have to give a farewell, birthday tribute, or just a quick welcome, there are still some tips available to make your speech great.
Start by identifying your topic, title, and the purpose of your speech, which will set the foundation of your outline. Then, determine the main points of your speech; keep it short with two to three points. Remember, a short speech is typically less than ten minutes long, so keep your points concise and to the point.
Since you have limited time to make the most impact, incorporate powerful words or other engaging elements. For example, you could throw out a thought-provoking question or anecdote, which will grab your audience’s attention and keep them engaged.
Finally, once you’ve written your speech, review it for brevity and clarity.
How to Write a Presentation Speech
A presentation speech is used to inform, persuade, explain, or demonstrate a particular topic.
Presentation speeches are well structured and follow a logical flow. They have an introduction, body, and conclusion. Use transition words and phrases to help your speech flow smoothly and prevent it from appearing disjointed.
You can use ProWritingAid to organize your speech and make it even clearer. ProWritingAid’s transition report will show you whether you’re using transitions effectively in your speech.
How to Write a Debate Speech
A debate is a formal argument on a particular topic. Debate speeches are persuasive since the aim is to convince the audience to agree with a stance.
Like most other speeches, a debate speech also follows the introduction, body, conclusion outline. This format helps the audience follow the speaker’s point in a linear and logical way.
When writing your introduction, clarify your stance so it’s clear to the audience. Anyone reading or listening to your speech shouldn’t have any doubt about your position on the topic. Take some time to prepare a solid opener, which can be an interesting fact, a personal story, or even a powerful quote.
The introduction also gives you the opportunity to explain terms your audience will need to understand throughout the speech. You should also provide an overview of your main points, but don’t spend long divulging too much.
Each body paragraph should cover a main point, whether that’s a key idea or a main claim, and each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence. The topic sentence is an initial sentence that summarizes the idea being presented.
Your conclusion should be a simple and clear reiteration of the points you made in the thesis statement and body paragraphs. Add an attention-grabbing element to leave a lasting impression on your audience.
Remember to use strong and emotive language throughout your speech, which makes it more likely for your audience to feel emotionally connected to your stance.
Always use transition words and phrases to maintain a logical flow between your arguments. Finally, edit and proofread your work for any potential grammar, punctuation, or spelling mistakes.
How to Write an Elevator Speech
An elevator speech is a brief speech that’s used to pitch a product, service, expertise, or credentials.
You have 30–60 seconds to persuade someone to act how you’d like: the same time as a quick elevator ride.
An effective elevator speech should contain an introduction, a clear value proposition, and a strong conclusion.
Your introduction should be polite and clear. Briefly explain who you are, what you do, and what you are offering. For example, if you’re pitching your expertise, condense your background into two sentences. Include things that will make your audience remember you.
End your speech with what you want to achieve. What are you trying to accomplish with this speech? Perhaps it’s a job opportunity, a follow-up meeting, or an internship.
Once you’ve written your speech, be sure to revise it for brevity. Then practice and record yourself to ensure you don’t go over the time limit.
How to Find Help Writing a Speech
Writing a good speech takes time, but these tips are a good start to improving your speech-writing process. If you encounter writer’s block, look up popular speeches for inspiration. Ask someone you trust to give you feedback once you’ve written your speech.
Finally, while ProWritingAid can’t write your speech for you, it can help you write in a cohesive and logical manner. It highlights any grammar, spelling, and punctuation issues. It also shows you suggestions on how to improve your sentence structure, transition, pacing, and readability, so your next speech can be impactful and memorable.