Creating A Speech That Works From The Ground Up

The correct way to create a great speech is from the ground up
The correct way to create a great speech is from the ground up

Image Credit: Dean Terry

When you are asked to give a speech, what is the first thing that you do when you sit down to create the speech? Do you spend time thinking about the overall body the speech that you want to give? Do you focus on how you’ll want to wrap things up? Does your mind go blank and you just end up staring at the wall in front of you thinking about the importance of public speaking? No matter what your approach is, I’m here to help you build your next speech from the ground up.

Make Sure That You Do Your Homework

When we were back in school none of us really liked doing the homework that was assigned to us. Guess what? When you sign up to deliver a speech you’ve also signed up to do some homework. Yes, we may feel that we have a pretty good grasp of the topic that we’ll be talking about; however, you have a problem. Your audience may know as much about your topic as you do. You need to do some research so that you can bring more information to your speech than your audience may already know.

Another reason that you’ll want to do your homework is because you can’t make a mistake. If during your speech you state something that is factually incorrect, somebody in your audience is going to realize it. Once your audience starts to doubt one thing that you’ve said, they may end up doubting everything that you’ve said. If this happens, then your speech has been a waste of time for everyone. Don’t let this happen – do your homework!

Practice, Practice, Practice

Yes, yes, I know that you’ve been told to practice every speech that you give, but have you ever been told why? One of the most important reasons that you are going to want to practice your speech is because in its initial form it is raw and poorly put together. It is only by practicing it that you’ll be able to remove from your speech what is not working for you. You’ll pull out any redundant concepts that have crept in there. Finally, if there are any ideas that will leave your audience confused then those have to go also.

A question that I am often asked is “how many times should a speech be practiced?” As you can well imagine, there is no one fixed answer to this question – we are all different. However, I generally try to practice all of my speeches seven times before I give them. This seems to be the right number for me – it’s enough to let my words sink in but not too many that I start to sound mechanical when I give my speech for real.

Make It Even Better

One of the key reasons why waiting until the last minute to create a speech is never a good idea is because it robs you of the ability to make your speech better. Once you have the words that you are going to say down, now comes the time when you get to make some decisions about what you can do in order to make your speech even better. We have to remember that in our audience, there will be people who will hear what we say and understand it. However, there will also be people who need to get our message differently in order to appreciate it.

There are a number of different things that can be added to your speech of words. The easy ones are a handout, a video, or even a set of PowerPoint slides. Something that will engage you audience even more will be if you add some vocal variety to your speech. As you change your voice, you’ll wake up your audience and cause them to once again start to pay attention to what you are saying.

What All Of This Means For You

Just like you I dream of the day that when I agree to give a speech someone shows up and hands me the speech that I am to give. However, since that is not happening yet, each time I find myself placed into the situation where I need to create yet another speech in order to share the benefits of public speaking. How to go about doing this correctly?

It turns out that the answer to creating a great speech is to properly build it from the ground up. Your first step needs to be to do your homework. Yes, you may already know your topic; however, there is always more that you can learn. Once you’ve created your speech you next need to take the time to practice it. You’ll be doing this in order to get your words right and to make sure that when you deliver the speech it comes to mind easily. Finally, after you’ve written your speech you’ll want to make it better by adding to it. Video, handouts, PowerPoint and using vocal variety are all options that you have to accomplish this.

Anyone can give a speech. What we want to do is to give a speech that will connect with our audience and cause them to sit up and take notice of what we are talking about. In order to make this happen we have to build a good speech from the ground up. The good news is that we can do this each and every time that we create a speech. Take the time to do it right and your next speech just might be one to change your world.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: When you are using vocal variety, do you think that it is possible to overdo it?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As speakers, we believe in the importance of public speaking and we want the next speech that we give to be well received by our audience. Our constant challenge is finding ways to make this happen. We’ll spend a lot of time trying to get our words right, our PowerPoint slides right, and we might even spend some time making sure that our clothes are correct. However, could we be missing something even bigger? It turns out that if we’re not enthusiastic about our topic, we’re not going to be successful.