Not all of us are natural speakers, and public speaking is often a challenging task.

However, with a powerful speech that captivates your audience, the challenge becomes much easier!

No matter the purpose of your speech: to inform, persuade, or entertain, here’s how to write an effective speech in 11 steps!

1. Define the context of the speech

Before starting to write your speech, begin by defining its context.

The form of the speech

There are several forms of presentations. Of course, they can be found in the same speech, but it’s important to discern the nuances:

  • The argumentative speech: if your text needs to convince the audience, you should focus your writing on arguments and examples to prove that your idea or solution is relevant.
  • The explanatory speech: you are there to make a fact understandable to your audience, and your explanations should be purely objective.
  • The descriptive speech: recognizable by the addition of spatial indicators, this speech is used to describe a place, character, or object.
  • The narrative speech: it relates a story or event and incorporates numerous action verbs and temporal indicators.
  • The injunctive speech: your goal is to prompt your audience to act or give advice by using imperative and subjunctive verbs.

The framework of the speech

A speech delivered after a business lunch will be constructed differently than a text read in the morning to an attentive assembly!

So, it’s relevant to identify:

  • When? In the morning, after lunch, at the end of the day after X speeches…
  • On what occasion? A seminar, conference, inauguration…
  • How long? Do you have free rein, or are you limited in duration?

2. Adapt your speech to your audience

Next, accurately target your audience. You won’t address clients, employees, or shareholders in the same way.

This will allow you to adopt the right language level and tone. However, be as explicit as possible, regardless of your target audience.

Of course, if you’re addressing a group of experts, you can use technical terms, but keep in mind that the purpose of your speech is to be understood by everyone.

As for the tone of your speech, be as consistent with your audience and circumstances as possible. You can include humor for a farewell party, but austerity will be required when announcing a layoff plan…

3. Argue with concrete evidence

If you’re looking to inform or persuade the audience, you must support your speech with sourced facts and concrete examples. Before starting to write a speech, it’s essential to gather all the necessary information and verify their credibility.

You must know your subject thoroughly and be able to present all aspects, even the negative ones. If you’re presenting a new product at a conference, for example, think about addressing criticisms directly in your speech. You’ll be even more convincing!

4. Structure your ideas

Now that you’ve identified your objectives and done your research, write down all your ideas. Don’t start writing your text yet; let your thoughts flow freely.

Then, keep the most relevant ideas and organize them in the form of lists or keywords. Don’t go overboard; you probably have many things to say, but focus on one or two main messages.

Beyond that, you risk bringing confusion to both your speech and the minds of your audience!

5. Write an effective speech by focusing on the content

After outlining your speech, it’s time to move on to the writing phase!

Develop a relevant plan

Writing a successful speech requires a good structure. Just like in an essay, the speech begins with an introduction, one or more sections for development, depending on the context, and a conclusion.

  • The introduction: it should be concise, grab the attention of the audience, and arouse their interest. Imagine yourself in front of a sleepy room and ask yourself how to wake up the assembly!
  • The development: this is the time to present your arguments. Your first section addresses your main argument, followed by an example (or an anecdote, statistics, etc.), then comes the secondary argument, followed by an example, and so on.
  • The conclusion: brief and impactful, it should summarize the different points of your speech.

Each part of your development should be structured with an introductory sentence and a concluding (or rather transitional) sentence between your paragraphs.

Integrate logical connectors

To bring fluidity to your speech, link your sections together with transitions.

These can be connecting words (in addition, however, because…), coordinating conjunctions, or expressions like “firstly.”

6. Engage your audience

To captivate your audience from the beginning of your speech, you’ll need to surprise, arouse curiosity, capture attention… in short, find THE hook!

For example:

  • Surprise with a statement or a fact that is real but so improbable that your listener will be amazed.
  • Engage with a question that everyone is asking.
  • Focus with a story or an anecdote.

Throughout your speech, keep your audience engaged by using modalization techniques, which express your feelings about what you’re discussing. To do this, use:

  • Verbs (believe, love, hate, appear…) that express judgment or opinion.
  • Adverbs or modalizing noun phrases (in my opinion, probably, personally…).
  • First-person pronouns or possessive adjectives (I, me, my…).
  • Figures of speech (metaphor, hyperbole, comparison…).
  • Subjectivity markers with positive or negative vocabulary.

7. Involve the audience

Building an effective speech also means being aware that you’re in front of an audience. Don’t hesitate to involve your audience so they feel concerned by your statements.

  • Address your audience: ladies, gentlemen, my dear associates, my loyal customers…
  • Integrate the word “you” as often as possible.
  • Add sentences like: those who are present know the problem well, you surely remember…

8. Support your speech with repetition

While repetition is not recommended in writing, it has a completely different impact in speech! The more you repeat your message, the more your audience’s subconscious will register it.

Repetition is a very effective strategy for persuasion. It can be found in politics and advertising. Among the most suitable figures of speech, use:

  • Anaphora, which involves repeating the same word at the beginning of each sentence (like Martin Luther King Jr’s speech: I Have a Dream).
  • Redundancy, which uses the same principle but with the entire lexical field and emphasizes an idea. For example: he won the project; he defeated all his competitors!

9. Animate your speech with visuals

Visual aids are invaluable for keeping your audience engaged and better conveying the spoken message. Don’t hesitate to use presentation videos, project slides, or supplement your speech with graphs.

However, your visuals should complement your presentation, not substitute it! They are only there to reinforce an important point or facilitate the understanding of complicated elements.

Remember that if your audience’s attention is focused solely on the visuals, they are no longer listening to you!

10. Conclude your speech with an open-ended note

As you reach the end of your speech, the conclusion is like coffee after a good meal – it’s the final touch that will leave a lasting impression!

Ensure your audience leaves with a positive image of you. If you want to project a serious image, conclude with an anecdote that demonstrates your expertise. If you prefer to see your listeners leave with a smile, finish with a funny story.

Whatever you decide, always end your speech with an open-ended note. This could be:

  • A call for funding a project.
  • An invitation to learn more about an initiative or make contacts.
  • A call for debate…

11. Read and reread your speech

You now have all the foundations for writing a good, relevant, and engaging speech. It would be a shame to skimp on proofreading! Here are four tips for this final step:

  • Set your speech aside for a day or two and then reread it with fresh eyes.
  • Reread it several times if necessary, and don’t hesitate to clarify your statements, remove overly heavy passages, and vary the phrasing.
  • Have a coworker, colleague, or friend read it to get an external opinion.
  • Finally, read your speech aloud using the right intonations, pauses, and gestures. If you’re not used to public speaking, practice as much as possible to perfect your diction and avoid having your eyes glued to your paper on the big day!