- Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is a major key to writing and delivering an exceptional speech. The demographics of your audience should dictate what kind of word phrasing you use, what kinds of jokes you may or may not want to include, and more. An older crowd will not receive a message the same way a high school crowd would. Keep in mind who you are talking to, and what makes them tick.
- Start and End Strong
The beginning and end of your speech should be symmetrical in strength. If you start strong and end weak, it will be noticeable. Attention grabbers like quotes, relevant questions and tasteful jokes are good ways to start and end a speech. If you start with a quote, you don’t necessarily have to end with the same quote—or a quote at all. Your speech may fare better if you end with a question or a joke. Every speech is different.
- Have a Clear Purpose
Before you start writing your speech, you should consider your goal. Do you want the audience to be in awe of what you said? Are you persuading them to take an action? Do you want to inspire them or cause them to think? Distinguishing your end result will help you to write an exceptional speech to support your purpose.
Practice, practice and practice more. Say your speech out loud in front of your mirror. Recite your speech over and over again until you feel confident that you could give the speech without any notes. You may still want to use an outline in case you stumble, but being prepared goes a long way. Find someone who you trust to be supportive, and recite your speech to that person and see what advice, questions or suggestions they might have for you. Try to eliminate “ums” and “uhs” as much as possible. You may want to have someone count how many times you say “um,” and try to get that number down to as few as possible.
- Consider Time
A great speech fits within the parameters of a given situation, including the time. Whatever the situation, the length of the speech should be succinct. A wedding speech is usually two to five minutes in length, while a business speech might be around 10 minutes, or longer.
An outline is a piece of paper that portrays the main points of the speech. Your outline may have a short phrase per line just to remind you how of you ordered your speech. The goal would be to give the speech without referring to your outline. Use eye contact with most, or all, of your audience members. Only glance at your outline if you have to.
- Body Language
Your body language says a lot about you. Relax, loosen up and use hand gestures when appropriate. Don’t try to keep your hands on a lectern, in your pockets or across your chest for the duration of your speech. Remember to breathe and be yourself!
Mary Moore is an award-winning writer and speaker. A former newspaper reporter and author, Mary is well-versed in composing compelling speeches, articles and essays. For more information on crafting or delivering your best speech, or if you need presentation coaching, contact Mary Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 792-5598.