In the pantheon of life’s great fears, delivering a speech is right up there with heights, spiders and running out of battery on a Friday night.
To borrow a line from the peerless 'Blackadder', for many people it is a fate worse than a fate worse than death.
We blogged a while back about how to be a better public speaker and there are plenty of ways to cope with pre-speech nerves, by preparing both physically and mentally for your trip to the podium.
However, the best way of boosting your confidence as a public speaker is to make sure your content is first class. If you invest time in writing a good speech, chances are you’ll deliver a good one too.
Here are our seven top tips for writing that perfect speech.
- Think about your audience
Before you start, think about who’s going to be listening to you. Why are they there? What are their expectations? Are they likely to agree with you, or resist what you’re saying? What would make you sit up and pay attention?
- Intrigue with a strong title
The title of your speech should catch the eye, get people wondering what you’re going to say. ’10 reasons our new Mustang is going to rock the world’ is a whole lot catchier than ‘Introducing the new Ford Mustang’.
- Get your story straight
In other words, set out knowing what you want to say – and say it in a way that’s clear, concise and easy to follow. If you can summarize your speech in about three sentences, you’re on the right track.
- Get out the polish
This is the difference between the competent speech and the good speech. Can you think of a catchier opening line? (Yes.) Is there a better way to articulate your main point? (Probably.) Can you tighten that technical bit in the middle? (You can.) Challenge every line.
- Practice, practice, practice
Technically this is part of the ‘polishing’ process, but it’s also a key stage in the writing process. Only when you stand up and start rehearsing out loud will you discover that some words, some lines, some jokes, need rephrasing.
- Shorten your script
Because “I wish that speech had been longer” said no audience, ever. When you think you’re done, get out the red pen and challenge yourself to lop off at least 10% of your word count.
- Stick to the script
You’ve practised and polished and now you’re tempted to ditch the script and speak off the cuff. Don’t. Do. Not. Most people think they are great ad-libbers but hardly anyone is. Trust your material, it won’t let you down!