Speeches: The Power of the Spoken Word

We can’t stop thinking about the power of the spoken word. Is it just us, or do you feel bombarded by speeches right now?

The annual State of the Union address was last week. If you’re a fan of awards season, you’ll no doubt watch countless acceptance speeches over the next month. And because it’s an election year, the number of statements from presidential candidates and their supporters will only increase throughout the year.

Some of these speeches may be remembered for years to come, while others will be disregarded the moment the speaker leaves the stage. It’s up to the speaker (and often the speechwriter) if the speech will be provocative or boring and celebrated or controversial.

Every speech is different, but all the memorable ones have a few things in common – strong content, exciting delivery, and proper location and timing. You (or the person for whom you’re writing) will be better prepared to deliver a successful speech if you keep the following things in mind.

Content


As with all forms of communications, you must first and foremost consider the audience. While you have message(s) you want to share, you must also make sure the audience’s expectations and/or needs are met.

The speech should focus on no more than a handful of key message(s), because keeping it simple means your message(s) will really resonate with listeners. It’s a good idea to start with an introduction to present these message(s); incorporate facts and figures, examples, and stories to support these message(s); and end with a conclusion to reiterate your message(s).

Delivery


Once you’ve written, edited and re-edited the content, you need to practice, practice, practice the delivery. You should focus on speaking clearly, altering your volume and pace, and exuding confidence through your stance and body language.

If possible, it’s a good idea to memorize your speech so you can look across your audience and make eye contact with various listeners. Though content is just as important, the delivery will really help you to connect with your audience and convince them that your words matter.

Location and Timing


You don’t always get to choose where and/or when you speak. Whether the setting and date are planned far advance or an occasion demands you make a speech, just be sure that whatever you say is relevant.

The location and timing, as well as current event or special circumstances, can dictate last-minute changes to your content and delivery. If this happens, think of it as an opportunity rather than a problem. It’s a chance to make your speech even better and show the audience you care about the same things they care about.

Many other factors can contribute to the success or failure of a speech, but these are the essential aspects you can control. And if you have the chance to control the content and delivery of your message(s), we suggest you take advantage of that opportunity.

Don’t be the actor or actress who isn’t sure what to say or who to thank because you weren’t expecting to be on stage. Instead, take the time to plan and prepare to ensure you and your message(s) are the ones everyone is talking about tomorrow and possibly for years to come.