How to write a crowd-pleasing speech in 3 simple steps

January 3, 2011 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: How-to Guides 

write a speechThe higher business people rise in the business world, the more likely they are to get invitations to speak.

However, they are also more likely to have no time to craft a speech, which is where good copywriters come in.

Arvid Westfelt shares his expertise on taking a highly consultative approach to writing a speech by following 3 simple steps.

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Have you picked up Dean’s free report yet? Then you know that the 10th astonishingly simple way to dazzle your clients and double your income is to be a trusted consultant.

What it means is you’re not just a pair of hands typing copy. You are selling expertise in the broader sense of helping your client succeed.

If you get to that much-envied position, chances are your client will ask you to help her with things that are outside your specialty.

It could be radio ads, investor relations — or writing a speech!

Maybe not a speech for the presidential inauguration or the Academy Awards, but for a sales pitch or a presentation at a business seminar.

Either you recommend another writer who specializes in speeches, or you can use the opportunity to deepen your relationship with your client by taking on the challenge yourself. In that case you can become an even more trusted consultant (and pocket the money).

You will probably not have time to prepare by reading and digesting Aristotle’s Rhetoric or Cicero’s De Oratore. Instead try these 3 simple steps:

Step 1 — Meet in person and discuss the speech.

The speaker is the medium of the message and her personality will have a tremendous influence on the speech. So you want to get to know her and the challenge she is facing. More specifically you want to find out:

  • What is the objective of the speech? (Generate leads, win a pitch, explain technicalities)
  • Who is in the audience? (Knowledge, attitude towards the client, needs)
  • Who is the client? (Experience in public speaking, competencies, worries)

Try to find out as much as you can about the situation and your client. Also ask about practical issues like the length of the speech, the size of the room, and technical aids like microphones or whiteboards.

Step 2 – Generate ideas together.

When you have a rough idea about what you want to accomplish, you should start generating ideas together. It’s important to let your client do a lot of talking, so you hear her speaking style and arguments.

With your helpful input, this will form the basis of the speech, which you could now start structuring like this:

  • Introduction (“Hi, my name is Eva Jones, and I’m here to talk about the TV business”)
  • Background story (“After starring in the show X-wives, I ventured into consulting …”)
  • Statement (“Aspiring female actresses need three skills to succeed”)
  • Short form of main arguments (“Business savvy, tough and humorous”)
  • Develop the arguments (“Business savvy means …”)
  • Answer objections (“Isn’t it all about being beautiful? No, because …”)
  • Short form of main arguments again (“I know from experience that you need to be business savvy …”)
  • Call to action (“Start today by getting your own signed copy of my new book! Thank you.”)

Step 3 – Write down keywords and practice.

The point here is not to write out a full manuscript word-for-word. Rather you want to free your client from a script by only writing down keywords and phrases. Try these steps:

  1. Ask your client to give the speech in front of you — without stopping for mistakes, comments or anything.
  2. Time the speech.
  3. Take notes and discuss any changes.
  4. Repeat!

General guidelines for writing a speech

It will take longer to give the speech in front of an audience, and the bigger the audience the longer it will take. Use PowerPoint sparingly if you need to explain or exemplify, never as a script. If you need a script, use a very simple one with only keywords and phrases on stiff cards.

Have fun!

And please tell me, do you write speeches? Do you use this structure or something else? Share your thoughts!

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  3. How to write engaging newsletter articles in 7 easy steps
  4. 5 simple ways to become a confident copywriter
  5. Copywriting ethics: 6 steps for working with questionable clients

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Smart Comments

3 Comments on How to write a crowd-pleasing speech in 3 simple steps

  1. Debra Torres on Jan 4th, 2011 1:59 pm
  2. Thanks Dean,
    I haven’t thought of writing a speech for anyone, but now … it makes sense. I want to be available for all of my client’s writing needs.
    Thanks for this. I’ve saved it for future reference!

  3. Dean Rieck on Jan 4th, 2011 2:14 pm
  4. Debra,
    Thanks goes to Arvid. I’ve never written a speech with this method before, but it’s good advice.

  5. Arvid Westfelt on Jan 5th, 2011 4:02 am
  6. Debra and Dean, thanks for your kind words. Glad if I can help.