Learning how to speak in public can be challenging at any age. One of the first steps to being successful is writing a solid speech to present.
First, understand your purpose for speaking. This moves beyond I need to pass this course or because my Mom asked me to do a speech. What kind of speech are you giving? Knowing this is the first step towards understanding the format for your speech and understanding the type of speech you will be writing.
In general as a kid you are called to write and give speeches to inform people or persuade people. Situations where you are informing people can include class presentations on a specific subject you have been assigned or chosen, giving a speech at an event, giving a toast at a family event. You are telling people about something you know and are sharing information about the topic.
Persuasive speeches involve trying to get people to see your point of view. They can also involve trying to get people to engage in certain behaviors. For instance persuasive speeches in school often are given during school elections, when trying to change school policies or to get students to work for a specific school policy. Sometimes teachers will make assignments to teach you how to give a persuasive speech. Your goal in researching and planning for this speech is to convince your audience that your opinions are worthy of consideration and hopefully action.
When planning for either speech, knowing your audience is key. Informing or persuading your parents or teachers is going to be far different than informing your peers, or an audience of kindergarteners. Giving the same speech to all these audiences is not going to be work. While you may be effective with groups that share some of the same interests, you will lose others. When you write a speech you need to know who you are trying to reach. When writing for a grade, this can be challenging. Does the teacher want you to reach him/her or your classmates? It can be important to have this clarified when getting an assignment to write and give a speech. If you target your peers, you might get a great reaction and lots of applause but not do well on the assignment if the teacher in fact is the target audience. On the other hand if the teacher is looking to see how you reach your peers and you write a speech geared to the teacher as your target audience you again might not score high. Ask clarifying questions when you get a speech assignment. Your teacher should be able to identify the target audience for you as part of his/her grading rubric.
Research is important to any speech. The goals of persuasion and informing require an understanding of the topic you are presenting. Your job is not to demonstrate to the audience that you did in fact spend the required week researching the topic. It is to write a speech that is informative or persuasive. The audience truly does not care if it took you a day or ten days. They are interested in the content and delivery of the speech. Once you have acquired the research, review your assignment and understand the requirements. What do you need to accomplish with this speech?
If there are specific requirements you need to meet in giving this speech write those down. You want to blend them into your speech without making them stick out. Someone listening to your speech should not be able to tell he is on requirement number three because we can tell he just finished number two. You want the speech to flow and be interesting to your audience. That requires planning and an understanding of the material and how to write a speech.
Start by organizing the research you have done for your speech. As you are accumulating the material make sure you include the required elements for your assignment. Then look at additional elements you have discovered that add interest or in the case of a persuasive speech make your arguments significantly stronger for the targeted audience.
Start to create an outline of materials you are required to include and those you have decided are important additions to your speech. This should give you the skeleton of the main body of your speech. Like any writing, now you have to put the pieces together to make it worthy of publication. Look at ways to tie the material together so it flows together with transitions that make sense. Remember you want to give a presentation you would want to sit through.
You will want to introduce the audience to the topic being presented. Think about how many of these presentations your teacher and classmates have to listen to and work on an interesting introduction. Your teacher and friends will thank you. This is your chance to grab the audience's attention and to introduce them to the topic. Do not waste it.
You will also want to write a solid conclusion for your speech. Highlight the most important information that should be taken from the speech. It may sound like you are repeating what has already been said, but that is the point, you want them to remember the most important points of the speech. This is the chance to have the audience walk away with these specific pieces of information in hand.
If the assignment requires you not just to write the speech but to give it, I urge you to practice. Repetition does help you to become comfortable with the pronunciation, the flow, and the speed at which you wish to deliver the speech. Writing a great speech is only half the battle, learning to deliver the speech is the other step in the process.
- Know the purpose for the speech you are giving. Are you trying to inform or persuade people?
- Research the topic so you have the ability to use the knowledge to your advantage.
- Know your audience, the speech you write should differ depending on the people hearing it.