Our lives revolve around people - the people we know and love, strangers we interact with, those who influence us. A speech is very similar.
Most first-time speechwriters or novice public speakers spent much of their time focused on one group: the audience.
Of course, the audience are not the only group of people you should consider when planning your speech. Let's look at the people whom you should consider when planning or making your speech.
The subject(s) of your speech
Most speeches are about a single person, a couple, or a group of people. (I will touch on speeches that are about subjects other people later).
The Ancient Greeks carved the words Gnothi Seauton, meaning "Know Thyself", on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. If the Temple of Speechwriters existed, I am sure that the words "Know Thy Subject" would appear somewhere on it.
At the outset of the speechwriting process, you re likely (but not always so) to have a familiarity with the subject of your speech be they a friend, relation, work colleague or even a celebrity. As such, you should try to organize what you know about your subject(s) on paper.
My favorite way to collect my thoughts about the subject(s) is to use a piece of paper with helpful headings over blank paragraphs as an aid to your brainstorming. Samples of headings could be:
- First impressions
- Fond memories
- Favorite Quotes
- Funny moments
- Features & Characteristics
The next part is fun. Take your time, and think about everything you can remember about the subject(s), in keyword form, under each heading. Time will pass quickly and before you know it, you will have a page that should summarize the subject perfectly and act as a terrific tool when writing your speech.
Tip: Once you have delivered your speech, this brainstorming page (preferably framed) can act as a wonderful gift and touching memento for the subject(s) of your speech.
Associates of the Subject(s)
Associates of the subject(s) may include parents, siblings or other family members, friends or colleagues, and especially their husband, wife or fiance. These people are extremely important as a source for additional information about the subject of your speech.
They will likely know aspects of the subject(s) life that you don't know, this will surely enrich your speech. There are additional benefits in consulting the friends and family of the subject(s) as they will appreciate your decision to involve them in your speechwriting. You should also bear in mind that as they are certain to be in attendance at the event, you will already have won over some of the audience!
Other public speakers
It is very likely that you will be a co-speaker at the public speaking event. If this is indeed the case, you should consider contacting the other speakers before your speech. This will ensure that you are not duplicating content and that there is a nice flow of themes and/or contact from one speaker to another. It may also be an opportunity to share ideas and provide moral support to one another.
At this stage of planning, it is important to realize that your audience are not there to be lectured at. Your public speaking goal is to do one or more of the following:
- Engage your audience
- Stimulate your audience
- Entertain your audience
- Pique your audience's interest
- Convey a message, theme or order
There are countless other ways and reasons to communicate with an audience. How many more can you think of for your speech event.
Non-human Speech Subjects
Of course, you may be asked to speak about things too, be it a product, a country, an argumentative thesis, and so on. of course in those instances you should consult authoritative sources such as encyclopedias, college professors and local library resources, to name but a few.
Note that even when the topic is non-human, a compelling story can often be told by focusing on the people involved - for example the inventors or engineers of a product, modern or historical figures of a country, or proponents or opponents of an argumentative thesis.
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