How to write a speech – good structure is crucial for a professional speaker

Do you know how to write a speech that engages? This is a key skill for a professional  speaker.  A well-structured speech is like a satisfying sandwich; great bread on the outside and tasty layers inside! The simpler the speech the more effective. Your audience needs to be led through your idea in a logical fashion to help them retain the content.

The simplest way of expressing this is as follows;

  1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them’becomes your introduction
  2. ‘Tell them’forms the body
  3. ‘Tell them what you told them’is your conclusion

Before you start talking you need a plan in your head- use index cards if necessary to remind you- of exactly what information you want to get across.

Some people use mind maps to work out how to write a speech and brainstorm ideas.

There is plenty of free software that does this if you like using technology – here are a couple of mind mapping tools that are free

How to write a speech the KISS way!

KISS stands for KEEP IT SIMPLE SILLY! Too often we lose an audience because our talk is too complex and contains too much information. Yes, less is more if you want people to grasp your ideas and take away a good action point. When working out how to write a speech –  be ruthless and only include key content. An error many professional speakers make is to include everything they know, when what they should be doing is making the content understandable for their audience.

A good main body has 3 related ideas. For example, if you were talking about how to prepare for an interview you might decide to break it down into three logical sections. Section 1 could be physical preparation- clothing, timing, travel arrangements etc. Section 2 could be company research- finding out all you can about the company, the job, the background to the position. Section 3 could be interview questions- prepping your answers and coming up with good questions to ask at interview.

Using this structure for the introduction

  1. TELL  –  For example: “In this talk I am going to cover how to prepare for an interview from clothing to questions. I will give you three crucial DO NOT’s and three absolute DO’s”

A good introduction will tell them what you are going to say, with some teasers as to why they want to continue listening (the Do’s and Don’ts for example).

How to write a speech - professional speakerHow to write a speech with impact using a clear structure

Where the introduction prepares your audience and includes some intriguing teasers- the main body is where you deliver your impact and motivation. Be careful not to go off at a tangent. Each section needs to be valid and related. Your most important parts are the transitions from one section to another. These need to be logical. Great motivational speeches and talks are often stories. The best stories have a beginning, middle and end, often with a surprise revelation. BUT, the story has to have a point! I will cover more elements of a great motivational speech later in this series.

“So What?” is a key question for a professional speaker

For now, keep asking yourself, “So what” when you want to include something in the body of your speech. Does the content have relevance to your audience? Does it add value to your core message? Does it explain something they need to know? It may be a favourite topic of yours, but does it help your audience? Learning how to write a speech includes being honest about your own tendency to ramble!

How to write a speech with an effective conclusion.

When you have delivered the main body of your speech you now need to remind the audience what they have learned and gained from listening. You tell them what you have told them. Select the key take away messages your speech delivered. Remind them of what they now know and can apply to their lives. If you are a coach or consultant be careful your conclusion doesn’t turn into a full on pitch for your services! Yes, you want to offer them the chance to learn more and if your speech was good they will be motivated to do so. It is totally valid to give them an opportunity for further learning, but be subtle about it.

Summary of how to write a speech and be a professional speaker

PLAN – your structure around one main idea with related sub ideas

SELECT – key information matched to audience needs

KISS – keep it simple silly!

TELL- introduction- around 2 minutes with teaser

TELL – Main body, 3 linked sections – sub divide if your speech is long

TELL – Conclusion – Remind them of key points – around 3 minutes

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