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Speech Writing Tips: Five Points to Remember

By on Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nonprofit and association public relations professionals are often called on to draft speeches for organizational leaders, board members or executives. Here’s a few speech writing tips to consider as you organize a draft:

#1 The Speaker’s Comfort Level – is he or she the type of person who wants a bulleted list with talking points, or a word-by-word double-spaced 18-point font size speech in a three-ring notebook? Is your presenter an accomplished and charismatic public speaker who can appear before a large crowd with ease, or a nervous executive who is being thrust into the limelight? If they are the nervous type, rehearsal may be required to calm jitters and soothe tension.

#2 The Audience – knowing about this audience is critical to structuring remarks that are relevant and connect. Is this a group that knows a lot about the organization or cause? Or a group that knows very little? What is the educational level of the group? Are your goals for the information you want to deliver, matched to the expectations of the audience? What would be an appropriate call to action for the people hearing the speech? To donate time? money? Sign petitions and picket for or against something?

#3 The Time Factors – no audience likes a speaker who stands between them and lunch or a happy hour, especially if the speaker is running over his or her allotted time. Know the amount of time allocated for remarks and what time of day the speech will be delivered.

#4 The Language – remarks should be brief and focused to fit the audience and desired topic. A good speech has an opening, middle and conclusion. An outline can really help a speech writer structure a speech into its basic sections. Cite stories and examples. Realize that one story told well, may have more impact on listeners, than several examples cited hastily. Remember to drive home the key point that you want for the audience to remember when the speaker finishes.

#5 – The Details – include notes on how to pronounce difficult words or names in the copy. Use active voice, not passive. Read the draft out loud to check for awkward phrasing and make improvements.

More Resources Offering Speech Writing Tips

Writing Scripts & Speeches – Grammar Girl

For the Novice: Simple Steps to Writing a Fantastic Speech – Toastmasters International

Speech Writing Articles – Six Minutes Speaking & Presentation Skills

Speech Writing in Perspective: A Brief Guide to Effective & Persuasive Communication – Congressional Research Service

Talk to Us: What tips do you have to share? What information do you consider when writing a speech? Post your tips and ideas below in the comments area.

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media advice, writing services, and creative design work for publications and websites (portfolio). Ami blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

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