Distinguish your Speech Writing

5 tips for successful speech writing

Speeches are an important part of any sports leader’s job. Whether it be inspiring your teams, informing stakeholders of updates, or pitching to new sponsors, the content and style of your speech is vital to your success as a leader and as an organisation.

Traditionally, those looking to enhance their speeches tend to think of public speaking. They therefore tend to focus on techniques such as projecting confidence through voice and body language.

In contrast, not so much attention is paid to the importance of speech writing and the characteristics that distinguish this from other forms of writing. Whereas much of writing is consumed by the eyes, speech writing must be consumed by the ears, and should be adapted accordingly.

So here are five key tips to help you write speeches that will connect with your audience and make your message heard

1. Use your own language: Speeches should be written in the voice of the speaker, using simple words and phrases that the speaker would normally say. This makes the speech seem far more authentic and easy to listen to.
*Tip: Read the speech out loud as you are writing it. If the words do not feel natural, change them.

2. Be personal: The speech should come from speaker, and people listening to you want to know what you think, not your organisation. Don’t be afraid to talk in the first person and express your true, authentic emotions.
*Tip: Tell a personal story in your speech, clearly showing your emotions.

3. Emphasise your key points: Whatever the structure of your speech, your key points (maximum 3!) must be clear. Focus on these to build your structure and use strong emphasis around them.
*Tip: Repeat the key things you want your audience to take away. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

4. Make sure it is uplifting: People don’t want to listen to negativity. Make sure that your speech leaves the audience being inspired and excited – these are the speeches that get remembered. So be positive in your writing with this vision in mind.
*Tip: Use contrasts to put a positive emphasis on your words. For example, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” – John F. Kennedy

5. Be concise: As brilliant as your speech may be, if it is not concise, the audience will lose interest. The average person has an attention span of just 5 minutes, so remember to use simple but effective language to write your speech.
*Tip: Cut the number of words as much as possible, take out words that do not reinforce your message.

Need some more inspiration? See these tips used in practice by listening to some of the greatest speeches in history, such as Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, and Barack Obama’s Keynote Speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention!

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Dan O'Toole
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