From Your Pen to Their Lips

In an age dominated by digital communications, public speaking remains a powerful tool to inform or persuade a group of people. It is an effective way to gain recognition and show leadership in one’s company, community, or profession. In fact, public speeches often help set policy and act as a catalyst for action. Good speeches are provocative and memorable; they should also be easily understood and moving. The best speeches gain a  life well beyond their moment of delivery by influencing the audience, whether their purpose is to inspire, motivate, or encourage thought.
Each speech should fit the personality of the speaker, the occasion of the speech, and the composition of the audience. A speech has to give the audience confidence in the speaker. A speech allows the speaker to be accessible and make an emotional connection with the audience; it is a chance to be more than just a corporate officer or political figurehead.

Speech writing is a radical departure from other forms of writing. Many of the greatest literary treasures would make
terrible speeches if they were read aloud. They may read well, but they don’t hear well. In speech writing, the rules of written English must be replaced with those of conversational English. Writing for a listener is entirely different from writing for a reader, but a good writer can do both:

• Just as every story pitch is customized to fit the style, format, and focus of the media outlet you’re soliciting, so too is each speech uniquely tailored to suit the speaker, occasion, and audience. That means there is no precise formula for writing speeches. The key steps speechwriters can take to ensure a coherent, appropriate script are:

• Begin the project by interviewing the speaker for ideas and speaking style.
• Learn about the place of delivery and the composition of the audience.
• Focus on a single theme.
• Obtain the speaker’s approval on the theme and the outline before writing the speech.
• Write for the human voice and the vocal rhythms of the speaker.
• Think of pleasing the audience, not just the speaker.
• Keep in mind any controversy surrounding the speaker.
• Remember the importance of rehearsal, and participate in the teleprompter rehearsal.
• Draft answers to anticipated questions, another form of the Q&A for internal use only.
• Hear the speech delivered.
• Research ways to recycle the speech so that it reaches a wider audience than those in attendance.



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