Speeches that are heard

By Paula Matthewson, Commtractor, Writer, Content producer and Sub-editor. 

It’s one thing to write a nicely crafted speech, full of important messages and vivid imagery. But it’s another thing altogether to write one that your audience will hear or remember.

Even the shortest, most routine speech can be made more memorable if you think about these elements during the drafting process.

Voice

Write the speech with the speech-giver’s voice in mind, rather than your own. Keep in mind their delivery style, the way they like to phrase and emphasise, and even use some of their favourite key words or metaphors.

This will make the speech sound like it is coming from a real person, which will increase its authenticity and chances of being heard. The speech-giver should also feel more confident delivering a speech that is tailored to their voice and style.

Language

Unless the speech is being delivered to an audience with a high level of technical knowledge, ensure that it uses only plain English.

You’ll be surprised how hard it can be to translate company or industry jargon into terms that can be understood by an audience with no specialist knowledge but doing so makes the speech easier to understand. If you must use jargon, at least explain the term the first time it’s used in the speech.

This is especially important if there are members of the public or journalists in your audience. It’s not wise to assume that either have any technical expertise in the subject that your speech is covering.

Audience

In addition to using the right language for your audience, you should also keep in mind what the audience wants to find out, not just what the speech-giver wants to tell them.

Draft a list of the things the audience might want to learn from listening to the speech and ensure these points are included. Go the extra step by explicitly stating the questions that may be on the audience’s mind before going on to address them.

And if there is an obvious question that can’t be addressed, explain why rather than leave the audience wanting.

Story

Every speech, however small, should tell a story. This is one of the toughest elements of speechwriting but the key to ensuring that your speech is not only heard but remembered.

Human brains are configured to remember and retell stories, which is why our most memorable speeches are crafted with a narrative thread. You might use a relevant metaphor to create the thread that connects all the parts of the speech, or the speech-giver might relate a personal story at the beginning to achieve the same effect.

There are literally hundreds of ways to ensure your speech has a compelling narrative, limited only by your imagination.

Keep these four points in mind when planning and drafting your next speech. They will help you to elevate even the most mundane speech to something that is heard, has impact and is remembered.

To find our more about our Speechwriting 101 Workshop in Canberra click here.

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