Crafting kingly content: How to write a better speech

public speaking

The delivery of your speech, while fundamental, is not the only aspect of speech-making to consider when you’re up on that stage.

A strong performance will help you create an immediate buzz, but content is what can transform those thoughtful moments amongst your audience into sustained thought leadership.

Through words, we are able guide, challenge, and enhance the knowledge of others. What we actually say into the microphone has the power to turn a 45-minute keynote speech into a legacy lasting for days, months, or even years to come. Without the content to back it up, any initial impact is often drained away and forgotten about once delegates have resumed everyday existence.

In order to generate real and enduring change, then, it is critical to focus on what you are actually trying to say. Get your content right and you’ll leave delegates feeling inspired to achieve great things, not just during, but long after the event itself:

Own your words

When establishing the content of a speech, a speaker should draw on their personal beliefs, experiences and inspirations. Not only is an audience able to sense when somebody owns his or her words, the connection a speaker feels with material they have lived and breathed only serves to enhance the way it is expressed. Even the dullest story can light up a room if the orator considers it to be the greatest adventure of all time.

Memorable phrasing

From President Barack Obama’s infamous ‘Rule of Three’ to the art of alliteration, clever phrasing can help you create content that sticks in the minds of your audience. You can do this by highlighting single words or phrases in a manner that encourages listeners to intrinsically link your primary points to the wider aspects of the speech. Anecdotes or stories are another great way to do this by positioning a point within a memorable and relatable context.

Set your key points

When writing your speech, you should do so with an awareness of the key points that need to be delivered and, moreover, when this needs to happen. By anchoring the overall structure around these milestones, a speaker is able to draw on their natural understanding of the content more freely in between. For inspiration on how to do this, the best speechwriters can be found at your local comedy store. Every night, the same comedian will deliver a unique set. By establishing fixed times throughout when they know to deliver their primary punch lines, their minds are free to whir away and generate a myriad of inventive comedic creations that wow an audience. The same principle can be applied to keynote speaking.

Start and finish with a bang

At the very start of a speech, you should aim to share two key messages with your audience in order to engage them: firstly, a justification for why you have the right to be on stage, and, secondly, a brief high-level overview of what you’re looking to achieve in your time with them. The final moment of a speech is the crescendo.

By the time you’ve reached the end of your (content-rich!) speech, you should have shared many takeaways that appeal to different members of the audience. What you say now is vital for creating sustained impact. Aim to tie your key points together to leave people feeling, not just excited about, but also focussed on the message and its long-term implications for them.

Content is king in my book, a final piece of advice is to be as flexible as possible. Often event programmes and agendas can change, allow yourself a little room for manoeuvre and you will find yourself able to adapt to any situation, ensuring your speech has the desired impact and resonance with your audience.

Nick Gold, managing director, Speakers Corner