There are a number of books on speech writing – if you do not have the time to work through several hundred pages, here is an outline of my approach.
What Does Your Audience Want?
Generally the audience will want to be informed, entertained or inspired. A social speech at a wedding or family event will generally be entertaining. A funeral oration might have a factual element but with an overlay of anecdote outlining the character of the subject. A business presentation should be informative, with some wit to sugar the pill.
It’s not about the audience – not the speaker. This may seem obvious but lots of speakers let their egos get in the way.
Five Minutes Will Do
Many of the worst speeches I have heard have been too long. Seven hundred well crafted words has its own magic. If the audience demands more, then break your speech into five minute sections.
Make It Different
The Internet gives us the opportunity of copying and pasting any old rubbish from around the world. Audiences are perceptive. As a student I remember the negative reaction when some lecturers were obviously just reading from sections of a book – it was a particular kind of insult to his audience.
One way of making a speech different is drawing on your personal experience. What things have made a real impact on you?
Avoid the Killers
Long speeches are a turn-off. Vulgarity and bitterness demeans the speaker. Keep it concise – and nice. Be genuine – authenticity is vital.
Three Main Points
‘Faith, hope and charity’ is an example of a three point plan. Concise and memorable but relating to important concepts. Why not use this approach for your speech? At a social speech your three main points could relate to key dates, such as the person’s birth, coming of age and later life. The subject’s work could be another section which would talk about talent and achievements. The third part might be about the subject’s character – family, friendships and the things that make that person tick.