When figuring out how to write a speech, the essay form can offer a good foundation for the process. Just like essays, all speeches have three main sections: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.
However, unlike essays, speeches must be written to be heard as opposed to being read. You need to write a speech in a way that keeps the attention of an audience and helps paint a mental image at the same time. This means that your speech should contain some color, drama, or humor. It should have “flair.” Make your speech memorable by using attention-grabbing anecdotes and examples.
Determine the Type of Speech You're Writing
Since there are different types of speeches, your attention-grabbing techniques should fit the speech type.
Informative and instructional speeches inform your audience about a topic, event, or area of knowledge. This can be a how-to on podcasting for teens or a historical report on the Underground Railroad. It also can relate to health and beauty, such as "How to Shape Perfect Eyebrows," or hobby-related, such as "Make a Great Bag Out of Old Clothing."
Persuasive speeches attempt to convince or persuade the audience to join one side of an argument. You might write a speech about a life choice, such as, "Abstinence Can Save Your Life," or getting involved in the community, such as "The Benefits of Volunteering."
Entertaining speeches entertain your audience, and topics may not practical. Your speech topic could be something like, "Life Is Like a Dirty Dorm," or "Can Potato Peels Predict the Future?"
Special occasion speeches entertain or inform your audience, like graduation speeches and toasts at celebrations.
Explore the different types of speeches and decide what speech type fits your assignment.
Craft a Creative Speech Introduction
/ Grace Fleming
The introduction of the informative speech should contain an attention-grabber, followed by a statement about your topic. It should end with a strong transition into your body section.
As an example, consider a template for an informative speech called "African-American Heroines." The length of your speech will depend on the amount of time you have been allotted to speak.
The red section of the speech in the graphic provides the attention-grabber. It makes audience members think about what life would be like without civil rights. The last sentence states directly the purpose of the speech and leads into the speech body, which provides more details.
Determine the Flow of the Body of the Speech
/ Grace Fleming
The body of your speech can be organized in a number of ways, depending on your topic. Suggested organization patterns include:
- Chronological: Provides the order of events in time;
- Spatial: Gives an overview of physical arrangement or design;
- Topical: Presents information one subject at a time;
- Causal: Shows cause-and-effect pattern.
The speech pattern illustrated in the image in this slide is topical. The body is divided into sections that address different people (different topics). Speeches typically include three sections (topics) in the body. This speech would continue with a third section about Susie King Taylor.
Writing a Memorable Speech Conclusion
/ Grace Fleming
The conclusion of your speech should restate the main points you covered in your speech and end with a memorable statement. In the sample in this graphic, the red section restates the overall message you wanted to convey: that the three women you've mentioned had strength and courage, despite the odds they faced.
The quote is an attention-grabber since it is written in colorful language. The blue section ties the entire speech together with a small twist.
Address These Key Objectives
Whatever type of speech you decide to write, find ways to make your words memorable. Those elements include:
- Clever quotes
- Amusing stories with a purpose
- Meaningful transitions
- A good ending
The structure of how to write your speech is just the start. You'll also need to finesse the speech a bit. Start by paying attention to your audience and their interests. Write the words you'll speak with passion and enthusiasm, but you also want your listeners to share that enthusiasm. When writing your attention-grabbing statements, make sure you are writing what will get their attention, not just yours.
Study Famous Speeches
Gain inspiration from others' speeches. Read famous speeches and look at the way they are constructed. Find things that stand out and figure out what makes it interesting. Oftentimes, speechwriters use rhetorical devices to make certain points easy to remember and to emphasize them.
Get to the Point Quickly
Remember to begin and end your speech with something that will gain and hold the attention of your audience. If you spend too much time getting into your speech, people will zone out or start checking their phones. If you get them interested immediately, they will be more likely to stick with you until the end.
Keep It Conversational
How you deliver the speech is also important. When you give the speech, think about the tone you should use, and be sure to write the speech in the same flow that you'd use in conversations. A great way to check this flow is to practice reading it out loud. If you stumble while reading or it feels monotone, look for ways to jazz up the words and improve the flow.