How To Write & Deliver A Speech: Top 10 Tips
This Saturday is a big day for me as I’m doing the main speech for my friends wedding. The two of them met at college which is where I also met them. They approached me and asked if I’d like to do the main speech. I jumped at the chance and, as always, I went in head first without really thinking about it; but I do love a good challenge!
So after realising what I’d got myself into I started to prep for the speech. Only then did I realise what I challenge it was! There were many things for me to consider. For starters there was a religious difference and then there is the mixed audience of young and old alike. I knew I’d have to keep my speech clean, make it funny with lots of funny stories and steer well clear of any religious humour. I also wanted the speech be something truly memorable for the bride and groom but and just enough so that it didn’t end up spoiling their big day. Lucky for me they both have a great sense of humour so no worries there.
This is not the first speech I’ve written but considering the audience I think it is definitely the most difficult so far. As college was such a long time ago a lot of those memories have now faded. There are still plenty there but if I knew then how important they would be I would’ve made a greater effort to remember them. That in itself has been one of the greatest lessons overall for me through the whole process. Finding out how valuable memories are.
I’ve now finished the speech and I’m just rehearsing for Saturday. I’m both excited and nervous at the same time. There’s always room for improvement and me being the perfectionist that I am will always want to make it better. I’m sure that over the course of the next few days I’ll work on it to make it better while also memorising the speech. Now all I have to do is book my ticket and be ready to flee the country just after I deliver the speech and just before the bride and groom catch me! 😆
Without further ado, here are my top 10 on how to write and deliver a speech
1. The First Draft
Your speech will never turn out perfect after the first draft. That’s the point – it’s a draft! The secret is writing and re-writing. It doesn’t matter if you have to re-write it 15 times as each re-write will be an improvement on the last. My wedding speech is on it’s 4th draft and I can safely say it got better with each re-write
2. Including Humour
Once you get the knack of writing jokes including humour is easy. There’s a distinct difference though between finding something funny, inside you head, and translating it in a way that anyone would find funny. If you need help with humour there’s a great book that helped me by Greg Dean which you can find on Amazon. It’s got tons of useful tips on the construction of humour.
I don’t buy into this nonsense that if you think fast you speak fast. You can decide how you want to deliver a speech by practising it out loud. Decide which style works for you. You can be straight and dead-pan or you can be light-hearted and jovial. Find a style that works for you and go with it. Remember it might also depend on what you’re delivering in the speech too. If you want to come across as cool, then slow and deliberate is the way to go; if you want to come as passionate then speed and volume count for a great deal!
It’s sometimes difficult to know how to begin your speech. I’ve found that the best way is to throw loads of ideas onto paper and then start tinkering with them. Chaos works well for me so I start by scribbling and then try out a few ideas. There’s no right or wrong way to begin; a cool story can work just as well as an opening gag. Something to get the audience relaxed and to trust in you that you won’t bore them to death! 😉
Of course, it goes without saying that you need to know your audience well. As I mentioned earlier the speech that I’m doing at the moment is a wedding speech with a very mixed audience. So I had to keep it very clean so I had to try a different kind of humour to what I’ve employed before. I’ve practised in front of friends and so far they like it.
There are loads of techniques you can employ to memorise your speech. I’ve developed my own method that works well for me. I prefer not read off the script while I’m talking, but of course, it’s good to have something there to remind you. I tend to break all the paragraphs down and give each a title. I memorise those using the first letter of each title. And through practise I remember the content of each paragraph naturally. You might have your own methods and feel free to share them in the comments
I’ve noticed that as I practise out loud I’m more likely to detect if something doesn’t sound quite right or could sound better. Then, as I’m practising I can make any tweaks as necessary. Again, you should know this cardinal rule, the more you practise the better you and it get!
8. Nerves and Breath Control
I’ve always had a challenge with public speaking where I hold my breath as I talk and eventually I run out of air! For some strange reason this doesn’t happen when I do stand-up comedy but does more so if I speak ad-hoc at a gathering or in front of people. I will talk about one other technique next but the truth is not to worry about it and also know that as you practise and remember your speech, the less that likely to occur.
If you do struggle for breath, pause, and take a sip of water! Pauses can be incredibly powerful. It can work if you’re about to deliver a punchline or the core meaning or your paragraph perhaps. Very few people will notice the pause for anything else other than a pause. They won’t notice that you’ve paused to catch your breath. If you do pause, look at your audience, maybe catch someone’s glance and ask, it that all clear so far? That’s just one method but the most important this is knowing how to use the pause.
10. Go For Broke And Be Remembered!
I do believe to make a speech work you do have to be bit risky and on the edge. You want to do something that is going to make people remember you. If you’re lucky people might remember you for how boring you were; but lets hope not! Make them remember you for something you did that was either, exceptional, funny, original, unique, or even outrageous. Let it be something that people will associate with you and even quote you on!
There we have my top 10 tips on writing and delivering a speech. Once I’ve done my speech on Saturday I may put a snippet on Youtube but I’ll keep the rest private so that it’s a private memory for the bride and groom and all those present!
If you would like coaching with writing and delivering a speech get in touch!