Writing a Speech

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Written By Jim Peterson

Jim Peterson has over 20 years experience on speech writing. He wrote over 300 free speech topic ideas and how-to guides for any kind of public speaking and speech writing assignments at My Speech Class.

Speech Writing Checklist

I have designed this transparant Yes You Can Do It Yourself persuader rubric especially for my students. Use it as the ultimate check before you go on stage with your

THE SPEECH TOPIC The speech topic you have found is significant and arousing for all.
Is limited and narrowed enough substantial statement. Is not too broad.
Is meaningful to the public.
Is important to the audience.
THE INTRODUCTION An interesting attention-getting opening that made us want to listen.
States the proposition or speech thesis clearly and without reservation.
Establishes the speaker??™s credibility and authority on the subject’s field.
Is a well organized preview of the best main points of the speech. Makes us inquisitive to hear and see more.
THE BODY TEXT The body of the speech follows a clear organizational outline pattern.
The main ideas and sub-points are arranged in a logical way.
Is focused on at least three major thoroughly described main points.
Valid arguments, and emotional, logical or ethical appeals.
Strong evidence to prove and support the persuasive thesis.
Smooth transition sentences and phrases with a natural text flow.
THE CONCLUSION Summary of the main points briefly formulated. The phrasing is different from the intro part.
There is a logic tie back to the main speech thesis.
There is a direct call to action: what to do or change right now?
There is a memorable closing statement. Something you remember after a few hours.
THE DELIVERY Adequate directness, animation and speaks with enthusiasm.
Has a natural conversational tone.
Has the appropriate vocal volume. Varies in loud and soft, and color.
Normal speaking rate. You can measure your speed of speech with my public speaking calculators. See left navigation bar.
Good articulation and pronunciation.
Vocal pauses.
Facial expression.
Consistent eye contact with the audience.
Natural body and hand gestures.
Natural movements.
Word choice and vocabulaire.
THE USE OF VISUAL AIDS Relevancy to the central idea and topics.
Appropriate visual aids.
Handling of visual aids.
THE SOURCES Number of sources or bibliography.
Credibility of the documentation.

Writing the Speech

writing public speech writing
Every speech should have one central idea around which the speech is built. If your audience remembers nothing else, they should remember this, essentially the point of your speech.

To support the central idea, your speech should have between 3-5 main points. Trying to squeeze in too many main points will just confuse the audience. Your main points should be clear, meaningful, and memorable and an equal amount of speech time should be given to each point if they are all of equal importance.

Once you have your main points, they need to be organized in a manor which the audience can easily grasp and follow. There are a number of common strategies for organizing main points:

  1. Time order- If you are speaking about something historical, someone’s life, or a process, it makes sense to organize your speech by starting in the beginning (first step, person’s birth, etc.) and finishing in the end (last step, person’s death, etc.).
  2. Spatial order- Just like it sounds, this refers to organizing main points by physical location. For example, a speech about visiting New York city might have the five boroughs as the main points.
  3. Problem/Solution order- Used mostly in persuasive speeches, the speaker presents the problem being discussed, then details a solution which addresses the problem.
  4. Cause/Effect order- Also used in persuasive speeches, the speaker describes the source of a problem and then speaks about the problem itself.
  5. Logical order- If no other organizational strategy fits, the speaker should develop a unique scheme for organizing the main points that will make sense for audience members.

The final consideration for main points is to find ways to transition between them effectively. Once again, as with the transition from the introduction to the speech body, the use of signposts (easily recognizable transitional phrases) is needed. Using numbers is a good way to transition between main points: “My first point…second point…etc.” or “First today….second today…etc.”. However you phrase your signposts, they should be perfectly obvious. Nothing about signposts should be subtle. Another great way to transition between main points is to use internal preview-review. This is a sentence which summarizes what you have just finished talking about and previews the next point you will cover. The next sentence on this page is an example of an internal preview-review.

Now that we’ve discussed main points, let’s move on to spicing up the language in your speech body. There are a few common rhetorical devices that can be used in this regard:

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  1. Hyperbole – This is exaggeration for effect. It’s not lying, it’s for the sake of humor or to drive home a point.
  2. Allusion – This refers to drawing comparison between your speech and another literary work.
  3. Metaphor – An implied comparison between the unfamiliar concept that you are speaking about and a concept with which the audience is familiar.
  4. Simile – A direct comparison between the unfamiliar and the familar.
  5. Repletion – The rhythmic repeating of a key phrase throughout a speech. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream”, for example.

Writing a speech is vastly different than writing a paper. When someone is reading written words, they have time to reflect on each word and go back to previous words to enhance their understanding. Therefore, written language consists of much longer, more complicated sentences. Unfortunately, almost all of our writing training in school deals with written language. Here are a few brief suggestions for writing for spoken language:

  1. Deliver your speech extemporaneously, if possible. This means that you do your speech with a few written notes, but otherwise off the top of your head. This will naturally lead to a comfortable, conversational delivery style, free from long complex sentences.
  2. If you must write your speech use short, simple sentences and try to not to edit yourself too much. Write the speech as a train-of-thought exercise.
  3. Tell stories whenever possible. Not only do people enjoy hearing stories, they will sound natural and informal- exactly what you want.

Top 10 Speech Writing Tips


What is your communicative goal? What response do you want from your listeners? What should your audience members think, feel, change, or do in ordinary life? Set the backbone, build a solid fundament. Do this test and find out how you compose a great talk.


Write down one central idea in one short sentence. Test if your title sounds okay by speaking it out loud in 5 seconds maximum.

Catch attention by writing an unforgettable claim that teases.


Determine the public’s demographic and cultural characteristics. A good public speaker (and especially persuasive and informative speakers) knows who they are, and knows their needs, concerns and expectations.


In the opening introduction you state why you have selected this speech topic, how it relates us and why you advocate for agreement. List benefits so they want to hear all.


Approach different views, factors, aspects, the supporting points, in your body text. Do not forget to relate your thoughts constantly to their ‘world’.


My speech writing tip number six: find evidence and appeal to Ethos, Pathos and Logos to strengthen your arguments. Ask education reference librarians to help researching your speech topics in their comprehensive databases.

Why not asking them for their favorite way of solving things? Reinforce your message at the end of all supporting points. It can serve as transition.


Prelude while creating topics on interacting. Ask the audience a rhetoric question, offer poll results and relate those to them. They will like it to share their thoughts with you on the subject matter!


An effective speech writing tip is: base all on a conversational tone. Deliver your oral by heart with a few note cards.

It enhances your natural performance and it enables to make eye-contact. Each card contains only one point.


The conclusion is after the introduction the most important part of a communication strategy plan. Leave everyone with something to think about. One of the ways is to refer to your central message. See my number 1 above.


Prepare for any Question & Answer feedback. Make sure you researched one or two bonus examples, narratives or anecdotes to make your message clear. Research surprising views, prove credibility, plus interact with anyone in the room.

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