#1 Write like you talk.
A speech is meant to be spoken, not read. Use short words and short sentences. Avoid awkward constructions that might cause a speaker to stumble.
Tip: Read the speech aloud as you’re writing. If you do it enough, you’ll start hearing the words when you type them.
#2 Tell a story.
What’s the story you’re trying to tell? Like any good story, a speech has its own narrative arc. It could a slow warm-up, a substantive middle, and an inspirational end. Tell your story in whatever way feels natural.
Tip: A good story can be a lot more powerful than the most compelling facts and statistics.
#3 Structure matters.
The order of those points matters because an argument that’s clear and logical is more likely to be persuasive.
Tip: Lists (like this one) are one way to impose a structure on a speech
#4 Be concise.
It’s harder to be concise than verbose. But the best way to make a point is concisely, as Churchill did when he announced during a wartime address: “The news from France is very bad.”
Tip: Challenge yourself to cut as many words as possible from each sentence without losing the line’s meaning.
#5 Be authentic.
Think about the moment you’re in, think about what your audience is going through, and write something that feels true.
Tip: Sharing a personal story can help you find your voice and build a connection with the audience.
#6 Don’t just speak – say something.
A speech’s greatness has as much to do with its values as anything else. No one remembers Hitler’s speeches, though few would dispute his oratorical prowess even though he lost. Hope will always be more compelling than hate. The best-known, best-loved speech in history – the Sermon on the Mount – is an articulation of humanity’s highest ideals.
Tip: Before sitting down to write, get inspired by reading great speeches from collections like William Safire’s “Lend Me Your Ears.”