Business: Tips For Successful Speechwriting

A guide to speechwriting to help create effective and successful speeches.

Whether it's in the boardroom or the classroom, being able to write a good speech is always an asset. Often, the difference between success and failure (or at least acceptance or rejection) is the skillful use and application of words.

Good speechwriters aren't born, they're made. It's often a trial-and-error process, made up of learning what works and what doesn't with different audiences by trying things out and watching them bomb horribly. Occasionally there will be people who seem to have an inborn talent for always knowing the right thing to say and when to say it, but if you're not one of those people, don't worry. You're right on par with most of the rest of us.

When writing a speech, the first thing that you have to do is research your topic. This is usually an exhaustive process, involving pouring over much more information than you'll actually use in the speech. It's vital that you have a wide understanding of the topic, however, since the more you know about it the more you can compress into a 2-minute speech. Compile your information, set it aside for a day or two, and then read over it again... find any points that you don't think are adequately covered in your research, and then hone in on those few points. Repeat this process until you think you've got the entire subject covered extensively.

Next, you need to decide exactly what part of all of this information you're going to actually use. Unless you're writing this speech to be used for an industry-specific function, avoid as much of the jargon and technical terms as possible. Try to summarize what you can into layman's terms, and if jargon must be included make a quick sidenote defining it. You'll find that removing the technical explanations of how and why things happen works wonders, since many listeners aren't as concerned with the how and why as they are with the result of what happens.

Make sure that whatever your specific topic is gets covered in detail, without too much detail. Again, unless the purpose of the speech is very technical or being presented to a very technical group, you're not there to analyze every piece of information. Instead, you're trying to present as much of it as you can without losing your listeners.

Finally, make sure to use language that flows well. If you were simply writing an article about a subject, it would be more permissible to use phrases or words that might not flow well in spoken language, but in speechwriting it's essential to avoid them. Whether or not you're the one who will actually be presenting the speech, you need to remember that someone will have to be able to read what you write. Your goal is to make it as pleasant as possible to pronounce for the speaker, and as easy as possible to hear for the listeners. A poorly put-together speech can be an ordeal for everyone involved.

In the end, be sure to treat both readers and listeners of your speech with respect. Put as much information as possible into your work, but make it as easy and entertaining to listen to as possible; after all, that's what separates the good speechwriters from the great ones.

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