Person giving a speech to a group of people.
From doing research to choosing a presentation tool, here are seven steps to take to writing an effective and engaging speech. — Getty Images/Klaus Vedfelt

If you’re preparing for a presentation, the work really begins when you sit down to write your speech. A great speech will engage the audience and can lead to greater personal and professional success. Here are seven steps to writing an effective speech.

Know what your core message is

When preparing to write a speech, you want to start by thinking about the core message you want to share. Your core message should be a topic you’re knowledgeable and passionate about and one that’s relevant to your audience.

The topic should be delivered in a way that’s easy to understand and concise. Ideally, your audience should be able to explain what the speech was about in just one or two sentences.

Think about your audience

Next, you want to learn as much as possible about your audience because this will inform how you deliver the speech. The language you use and the examples you share will depend on the audience you’re speaking to.

As you learn more about your audience, you want to consider the circumstances that brought them together. Are they gathering for a business conference, or is it for a charity event? How big will the audience be, and how knowledgeable are they about the subject you’re speaking on?

[Read more: How to Give a Great Presentation]

Do your research

The amount of research you complete will depend on how familiar you are with your topic. But even if it’s a topic you know inside and out, it’s a good idea to do at least some research. This will help you gather new information and come up with unique and fresh ideas.

The amount of research you complete will depend on how familiar you are with your topic. But even if it’s a topic you know inside and out, it’s a good idea to do at least some research.

Come up with an outline

Now it’s time to organize your information and ideas into a detailed outline. Organizing your information will make it easier once it’s time to sit down and write the speech. Your outline should include three main parts:

  • Introduction: The introduction sets the stage for the information you’ll be sharing. It’s a good idea to start with a story that will catch your audience’s attention. From there, you can outline what you’ll be sharing and the conclusion you’ll reach.
  • Body: The body of your speech is where you’ll highlight the overarching points you’re trying to make. But be careful not to throw too much information at your audience — two to three main points are enough.
  • Conclusion: During the conclusion, you’ll summarize your core message and what the audience should take away from the speech. Look for ways to end your speech on a strong note, so the audience understands why this topic matters and how they can take action.

Write a draft

Once you have an outline, you can begin drafting your speech. Don’t try to make your speech perfect during the drafting stage — just try to get your ideas on paper. You can come back to revise and improve your speech later.

Choose a presentation tool

If you’re speaking in a professional setting, you’ll likely want to compliment your speech with a presentation tool like PowerPoint. Using a slide deck is a great way to add a visual element to your speech that will further engage the audience. Using a template can make it easier to develop a well-designed slide deck.

[Read more: 6 Business Presentation Tools for Small Businesses]

Practice and revise

Great speeches take time to write, so you should plan to practice and revise your speech as needed. You can practice your speech in front of a friend or family member, ask for their feedback, and then adjust your speech accordingly.

As you’re revising, focus on using conversational language and short sentences. Look for any areas that are too general or vague, and try to come up with specific examples that will back up your core message.

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Published September 27, 2022