Wednesday 9 November 2022

How to Write Speeches That Move People!💥

My simple tips will help you tell your story!

Whether you need to write a 1-hr. speech or a 2-minute announcement, my tips will help improve the engagement level of your audience while reducing your stress level.

Who Is It For

If you’re a leader, developing your communication skills is a necessity! Whether speaking to a live audience or to one on a video call, connecting and moving them to action is part of your job description.

  • Own a business
  •  Teach 
  • Lead industry, community, or faith groups
  • MC weddings, concerts, or community events
  • Chair a board and A.G.Ms. 
  • Do politics at any level

Who Your Person Is

Knowing your audience will help you include relevant content. If you are speaking at a conference or a service club two towns over and don’t know who will be there, call someone who does.

Ask 10 key questions

  1. What is the average age?
  2. What is the male/female mix?
  3. What is their level of education?
  4. What do they do professionally?
  5. What is their average income level?
  6. Where do they live? (if speaking at a conference)
  7. What is the ethnic and cultural mix?
  8.  What do they care about?
  9. What problem do they need to solve?
  10. What qualifies you to offer solutions to their problem?

What is Your Goal?

Defining your goals will bring clarity and frame your talk. Write them down and refer to them as you progress. 

When finished, ask the obvious question! Did you meet your goals? 

Even with a 2-minute announcement at your place of worship or community organization, keep your purpose in mind. What do you want people to do?

Identify your goals and take a giant leap toward the finish line.

Setting the Stage

How do you transform your idea into story form? Whether you take days to prepare it or like to sit in a Tim Horton’s or Starbucks madly sketching out your speech on a napkin an hour before you have to give it, the process is the same.  

Four Script Options

  1. ·         Wing it
  2. ·         Memorize it
  3. ·         Use talking points
  4. ·         Speak from a written script

Winging it is highly discouraged. It often leads to disappointment and embarrassment. Any of the other options are good choices depending on your comfort level and speaking style.

Boredom Kills

Have you been forced to sit through a report showing the results of a survey? Was the audience shown slide after slide of bad news? I have, and it’s not a time of joy.

A speech full of raw data, statistics, graphs, and charts is dull and audiences zone out around the 5th slide. Stories, illustrations, and interpretations of the survey results should be sprinkled throughout the data to make the content come alive. 

Tell Your Story

People identify with stories! Stories activate eight regions of the brain including five that govern the senses. When your audience becomes absorbed into an account, it causes them to ask, “What happened next?”

Stories trigger the imagination and connect at an emotional level. In the same way, anecdotes and illustrations can create common ground with the audience.

Appealing to the senses by describing sights, sounds, colours, smells, shapes, textures, and feelings helps listeners paint a picture in their minds.

Supporting your story with photos, images, or video takes them deeper into your topic. I’ll save tips about how to do it for a future post!


Mary Had a Lamb

Beware! Sometimes a story or illustration can backfire. Get your facts straight!

I’m ecstatic when audience members share how I helped them see things differently. They usually mention, in passing, how great my presentation was.

I recently gave a keynote to a sold-out crowd in Edmonton, Alberta. Unfortunately, it was over-sold, and latecomers were ushered onto the stage and seated off to the side. (I say, unfortunately - that's for the facilities people who were worried about safety! For me, it was an adrenalin rush!) 

I use nursery rhymes like ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’ to demonstrate how effective pauses can be or how changing the emphasis on one word can shift the meaning. 

After my keynote, a line formed in front of me. I was stoked and felt smug!

Stoked, that is until the first person in line pointed out I had made a mistake!

In a moment of carelessness, I had said, ‘Its FACE was white as snow.’ Buddy informed me that ‘face’ was actually ‘fleece.’ Its FLEECE was white as snow! He was troubled that I didn’t understand that.

To quote Homer Simpson, “DOH!’

Offer Solutions

Offer solutions to the common problems associated with your topic. Whether delivering a serious message about safety protocols or what to bring and when to arrive for the company barbecue, offer solutions. 

A solution may be as simple as telling the date, time, and place, of the barbecue or it may be more serious and involved. Tell them what they need to do and how they can do it. (See Power Words below)

By offering solutions, you come across as a caring person who is interested in the well-being of the audience. You also signal that you are an authority. 

Speech Structure

Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Create a one-page outline by writing these words on a blank sheet of paper.

Write ‘Beginning’ at the top. Leave a space, then write ‘Middle’ about 15% of the way down. Leave a large area, and then write ‘End’ near the bottom.

Begin your talk by telling the audience what you’re going to tell them and why it is important in a 3-4 sentence intro.

Next, fill in the blanks with phrases or short sentences as your story progresses. Tell your story in sequence. Keep asking, “What happens next?”


      I want to tell you about …

      It is important because …


      Get to the heart of the matter quickly

      Use illustrations and stories to emphasize key points

      Describe what action can be taken

      Outline the benefits of taking that action


      Sum up what you just told them

      Challenge them with an unmistakable call-to-action

      Finish with a strong statement focusing on outcomes and benefits.

Titles That Inspire

Strong titles attract attention and engage the audience. 

A major speech needs a title. A strong headline demands attention and creates anticipation. It also makes the promotion of your talk easier.

I usually create a draft title and finalize it after I’ve finished my speech. At that point, the title is generally apparent and the meaning clear. 

Find a hook. Songwriters search for hooks in their song titles. It is often the first line of the chorus.

Early in his career, Mac Davis wrote and recorded songs that went nowhere. His producer kept telling him to find hooks!

Mac was angry that anyone would dare interfere with his creative process. So he stormed off to write the protest song, ‘Baby, Baby, Don’t Get Hooked on Me!’ It was his first colossal hit. 

Write and rewrite headlines until they seem right.

      Use Plain Language

The rule of thumb is to use plain language. Big words don’t always make you sound smart. Instead, they can make you sound aloof or disconnected.

Never use a $1,000 word when a $100 or even a $10 word will do. Speak to the lowest level of understanding in the room.

There are exceptions to the rule. For example, if you are speaking to a crowd of lawyers, engineers, or scientists, using terms they identify with will boost their engagement. However, never, never, never use any word unless you know what it means.

General Rules

Some principles of online writing also apply to speech writing. Remember, your speech is meant to be spoken.

  • Start each paragraph with a strong statement about the main topic
  • Sentences should not include more than 10 - 15 words
  • Paragraphs should be 2-4 sentences as a guide
  • Start a new paragraph for each new idea
  • When possible, resist starting sentences with a clause 


Cut out irrelevant clutter. Trips down rabbit trails will muddy your message.

You want people to remember what you want them to remember. Make sure that the main thing remains the main thing.

Acronyms Can be Deadly

My advice is to avoid acronyms if possible. Know that someone in the room will not understand what they mean. That makes them feel like an outsider!

I belong to a Rotary Club, which is part of Rotary International Rotary is a worldwide service organization. I find it fulfilling to contribute in different ways to making lives better internationally and in my local community. In many instances, the work of Rotarians saves the lives of thousands of people. 

However, one of the greatest frustrations of many Rotarians is listening to an announcement or talk filled with acronyms and 'insider' talk.

Beware the sinking sand of acronyms!

Visitors, new club members, and many long-time members will have no idea what was said.

Keep it Positive

Use a positive tone even when you deliver a serious message. Offer a glimmer of hope near the end. For example, if talking about a natural disaster, tell people where they can volunteer to help or how they can donate money.

However, offering hope may not be easy if you’ve just announced a company layoff. You won’t score points on the empathy scale if you finish with, “At least some of you still have a job!” Show compassion to those whose lives have just been upended.

Use of Contractions

Use contractions where possible so you don't sound stilted. For example, 'it is not grey' sounds stodgy. 'It isn't grey' is more conversational.

However, in certain situations where you need to make a strong point, raising your voice and saying, 'IT   IS   NOT   GREY!' will do the job.

Use of Slang

Don't use slang unless you know for sure people will know what it means. Make sure you know all the nuances of the word. 

Power Words

Power Words trigger psychological or emotional responses. They are persuasive and make it hard for listeners to resist being influenced by them! They will add energy to your speech.

Careful use of authority words add credibility to your speech.

Great political speech writers are masters at choosing the right word to evoke the right emotion. For example, Canadian political writer David Fromm created the term ‘Axis of Evil’ to define what happened on 9/11.

  • You can ACHIEVE great SUCCESS!
  • Join me on a JOURNEY into the PAST!
  • TOGETHER we can …

Google power words and thousands will come up. The list above provides a beginning.

Action Words

Action words add energy to your speech.

Action Words challenge listeners to do something. Use Action Words to help close the loop with your listeners. Motivate them to buy, sell, donate, sign up, go, sit, stand, support, be kinder, or to make a difference.  

Key - Power Word: yellow - Action word: blue

Together, we can make a difference. Join me today by giving your financial gift to help destitute children survive this devastating crisis.

Practical Application

I write television and radio commercials. It often takes more time to write a 30-second commercial than a 500-word blog post.

I love writing story commercials like Santa and the Elf, Count Dracula’s Sleep Problem, The Grandson’s Big Fish, and The Sleep Detective or sitting by a crackling fire while smelling coffee and bacon and listening to bacon sizzling in the pan. Each must include action words to motivate people to buy the advertised product.    

Google action words. You’ll find thousands of lists for advertising copywriters. My graphic provides a start.

Wrapping it Up

Has this post helped you with shortcuts for writing speeches?  Do you have others? Please let me know in the comment section below. 

Websites: and
Twitter: @RobynTbraley

Check These Out - More Brandit Posts by Robyn T. Braley

Radically Improve Your Video Call Performances

Seven Easy Steps to Improve Your Audio Quality on Video Calls

Position Your Body on Video Calls and Look like a Pro

Video Call Lighting - 12 Tips to Make You Look Better

No comments:

Post a Comment