Some simple tips on speech making

What occurred to me whilst writing this blog piece was how similar blogging is to speech writing, adopting similar connectivity  techniques to engage the reader, particularly repetition, rhetorical questions, and employing direct address. 

Inspirational speeches: Do you recall a memorable speech at some point in your life and now you have to write a speech or make a presentation to a large group? I recall Barack Obama’s moving acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention in 2008 as one of the most memorable in my life. Perhaps you have one which inspires you when you are preparing a presentation or going to a job interview? What are the skills involved in effective speech making? There are some useful tenets involved in compiling a speech that will connect with the audience.

Naturally you will need to prepare thoroughly and practise your speech so you know your material inside and out. Look up at the audience during your speech, use eye contact, to reinforce that connection you are working towards. What are you trying to say? Be memorable. Some politicians are famous for their speeches. For those old enough to remember, former prime minister Tony Blair was famous for making a speech that included the reiterative phrase “Education, education, education”. His use of repetition made the speech memorable and helped his audience identify his central message. During Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign he reinforced the slogan ‘ Yes, we can’ at speeches which roused his audience and fuel-injected his election campaign to the White House. Some speech making tips to remember include:

  • use rhetorical questions as devices to connect with your audience.
  • repetition reinforces your message.
  • using alliterative lists of three words (e.g. vicious, violent and vindictive) also reinforces your message.
  • emotive language stirs the audience, and focuses your speech.
  • direct address alerts the audience to your message.
  • evidence such as statistics, quotations, examples, et al makes your argument more solid, more convincing, and supports your central message.
  • well considered humour can be an effective tool.

Deploying these techniques you will be able to deliver a confident speech that persuades your audience,  so that you can become an inspirational speaker. Browsing other university sites it is clear that speech making is something not generally covered by learning development, but many of us will find ourselves holding onto some lectern in the future trying to convince or motivate an audience.  Remember Michelle Obama’s speech at a London girls’ school in which she encouraged those present to take education seriously in the most wonderful terms? Such speeches can change lives.


Michelle Obama speech making.