As I discuss speeches with you, I'm going to assume
that it's you who will be making the speech. A PR
writer often has to speak before a group. If you lack experience
at this, you should go out of your way to get some... find
opportunities to make speeches so you're comfortable on your feet.
It will not only help you advance in your career, it will make you
a better counselor to your client, and a better speechwriter.
When you write speeches for someone else, share these
ideas with them. Explain the importance of not
reading the speech, but working from bullet points -- even though
there's a complete text available. Speakers who read speeches are
deadly dull. But it can be very useful for a speaker to read the
complete text several times in advance, to gain an appreciation of
the speech's flow, before he or she puts the text aside and uses
the bullet points.
Here's an all-purpose outline to help you
structure your speech. A little further along (on page 5) I'll share ten
different formats that will help to shape a more targeted
message, but this all-purpose version is always useful:
- Break the ice with some observation, lighthearted not serious, that everyone can share
equally. The reason people talk about the weather so often is that
it's one thing we all have in common. You can be a little more
creative than the weather, though...
- Thanks/acknowledgements: This is also a good time to handle the thank-yous and
acknowledgements to whomever introduced you, your host,
dignitaries in the audiences, etc.
- Tell them what you came to say -- i.e., state your
message here... remember, a good speech will leave people
with one main idea...
- List the main points you're going to make... give your
audience some idea of what to expect; you will raise their
comfort level if they can follow where you're going.
- First point
Second point (same breakdown as above)
Third point (same breakdown as above)
- Examples and/or
- Bit of background and/or
- Cause(s) (if the point is about a problem result) and/or
- Result(s) (if the point is about a problem symptom)
- Summarize (tick off on your fingers) the points you've made
- Restate your conclusion
- Finish with the message you want to leave them with.
There are two places where you can read, or memorize:
At the very beginning of your speech, as
you prepare to tell them what you came to say. This
should be strong and memorable. It can be a quote (a
good excuse to read something)... or it can be a
shocking statistic or historical fact... or it can be a
powerful statement of your message that you originated
(maybe it will be a quote -- from you -- someday). The
good thing about being able to read something at the
beginning of a speech is that it can get you going
painlessly -- kind of a crutch as you're getting
At the end of your speech, for the same reasons.
But for the rest of the speech, you
should speak from your bullet points. Bullet points are a
topical outline that you create to accompany your text. They
are not the same thing as the working outline that you
use to assemble your facts and marshall your strongest points. The
bullet points are always crafted after you have written
the text, so they are guided by the creative flow of the spoken
Go on to the next page.