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Speech Writing (Part 1) Best Practices

July 13, 2021-We’re talking about public speaking this month, and we’ve got some great tips to share for authors! Speech writing 101 (Best Practices) is what we’re focusing on today, but let me begin with a story.

I was in Boston for a writer’s conference where the speaker was a breakout author who hit number 1 on the NY Times bestseller list and had a host of new followers who were excited to hear her speak. I’ll never forget what happened next; she entered the packed conference room and took her place on centre stage; she smiled and said, “This is my time.” And for the next two hours, the audience listened to her drone on and on about pointless details and self-indulgent tangents. I observed the crowd from my seat at the back of the room and quickly noted that the audience was gone-she no longer had their attention. Let’s make one thing crystal clear; this isn’t your time, it’s your audience’s time, and they are spending it voluntarily listening to you speak.  Don’t disappoint them by talking about things that don’t matter to them or that glorify you and make you come off as arrogant, conceited, and insufferable. Now, let’s get down to it; here are 5 things you need to know about speech writing best practices for authors.

  1. Be memorable. Make an impression with your audience. I usually like to be memorable not only by my speech/presentation but by something I’m wearing. Maybe I’ll wear all black with my neon yellow pair of pointed stilettos, a stunning statement necklace, or a signature red lip. You can be memorable in so many different ways, including adding theatrics, comedy, or anecdotes. Be aware that people remember stories! So tell some that are relevant for your presentation.
  2. Be organized. There’s nothing worse than listening to a speaker who goes off on a tangent. You have no idea where they’re going with their presentation, and they usually don’t revisit the main point they were trying to make because they’ve forgotten. Organize the points you want to make and ensure that they’re useful and valuable to your audience. Just like writing a novel, you want an intro (start where the action is), middle (main points or the ‘plot’ of your speech), an ending that wraps everything up with a bow.
  3. Come out swinging. Don’t waste the opening of your speech; this is your chance to grab your audience’s attention and make an impact. Yes, there are people to thank, and you’ll want to introduce yourself. Still, the truth is…no one cares who you are-they care about what information you can give them to make them better writers,  and that you entertain them,  inspire them and make them feel like they got something of value by listening to you speak and that they didn’t waste their time.
  4. Know your audience. What are you speaking on, and who are the people listening? What do they want to know? What do they want to learn? Put yourself in their shoes. Are you capturing their attention and providing value by talking about yourself and your accomplishments the entire time? No, of course not.  Listen to your speech from their perspective so that you can decide if what you’ve written is educational, entertaining, inspiring, and captivating.
  5. Be relatable. Nothing is worse than a presenter who has a chip on their shoulder or has their nose in the air. Your audience doesn’t come to you to feel bad about themselves or less than. Stop stroking your ego by using your platform for self-indulgent bs. It’s not about you; it’s about them and why they came to hear you speak in the first place. I was in a class once taught by a man who thought he could impress the room by telling us that he was gifted a Rolex while on a spiritual journey in the Tibetian mountains (I’m not even kidding!). What Rolex’s have to do with a spiritual journey still stumps me, but even more so, what those two things had to do with constructing a killer plot, were even more confusing. Be authentic, be yourself, and be relatable.

Stay tuned tomorrow when we continue with part 2 of this post, where we’ll dive into the writing part of how to write a speech. See you then!

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