Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting a three-part series surrounding the value of a ‘good speech.’ So what is a good speech? What writing style should we use? How can we guide our audiences? Read on and find out!
How many speeches have you heard that sounded like someone reading an essay? Chances are, that’s more or less what they were doing, that’s why they sounded flat and robotic.
Too many speakers forget the crucial difference between the printed page and the spoken word. For one thing, a reader can always go back and re-read something that she or he found confusing. This is sometimes not an option for a listener; there’s no rewind button on a podium.
A conversational writing style means a more effective speech, one that captures and keeps your audience’s attention. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Write short, simple sentences. Unless you’re trying for a particular rhetorical effect, you’ll want to limit most sentences to two clauses. This is especially important for President’s speeches. When a sentence is too long, the words and sentences are divided in the wrong places. Long complex sentences are exhausting to read. When you are writing speeches you are a speechwriter, not a writer
- Help your audience navigate. Give them an idea of where they are in your speech – for example, by setting out the speech’s broad outline at the beginning and then indicating “milestones” as you go by.
Who is the Audience? Why should they care? What are the there key messages?
Always use the ‘Power of Three’; good things come in three’s. A series of three-related or parallel facts, phrases, ideas or variation will reinforce the point, as well as lend special significance to the ideas, and it sounds good. The best example I can think of is the U.S. Constitution, “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
And finally, what is the intent and call to action?
I hope this has helped inspired you to write a ‘good speech’! Let me know what your tips are, and if you have any examples yourself: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tune in next Monday for part two: Finding someone’s voice.