Articles in category: Speechwriting


Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark will help you communicate better, whether writing speeches, reports, handouts, or articles.

As I breezed through Writing Tools, I confessed to my wife that I felt inspired to write. Thus, the book achieved the rare feat of delivering on the promise of the front cover review (from the Boston Globe): “Writers will be inspired to pick up their pens.”

This article is one of a series of public speaking book reviews from Six Minutes.

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Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.
— Immanuel Kant

There are many types of bad speakers, and this article is about two of them:

  1. Speakers who bury audiences in an avalanche of data without providing the significance.
  2. Speakers who discuss theories and ideals, completely detached from real-world practicalities.

Both of these speakers fail because they don’t understand the ladder of abstraction.

In this article, we define the ladder of abstraction, give several examples, and explore why it is important for all speakers. Then, we explore specific strategies that you can apply to improve the balance and understanding in your presentations.

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The signature of a persuasive speech is a clear call-to-action.

Yet many speakers miss a fantastic opportunity with a call-to-action that is wishy-washy, hypothetical, or ill-constructed. Even worse, some speakers omit the call-to-action entirely.

A poor call-to-action undermines the effectiveness of your speech; a great call-to-action stirs your audience to act enthusiastically.

In this article, we reveal the qualities of a strong speech call-to-action which will lead your audience to act.

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When listening to a speech, have you ever:

  • wondered “how does this relate to that?”
  • felt the speaker jumped randomly from one point to the next?
  • gotten totally lost?

If you’ve experienced this, there’s a very good chance that the speaker failed to use appropriate speech transitions.

In this article, we define speech transitions and learn why they are so critical. In addition, we provide dozens of speech transition examples that you can incorporate into your speech.

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Do you ever find yourself wishing that your audience understood you better? Do you have difficulty conveying your great ideas clearly?

One of the most important writing techniques I ever learned was parallelism. Parallelism leads to clear writing, and clear writing leads to clear speaking.

In this article, we define parallelism, study numerous examples, and discuss how you can incorporate it into your speeches.

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The first two articles in this audience analysis series have defined what audience analysis is (what questions to ask) and given strategies for how to conduct audience analysis (how to get those answers).

This begs the question — how do you capitalize on your audience analysis? That is, how do you reap the benefits to offset the time that you invested?

In this article, we examine how to improve your presentation based on your audience analysis.

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The demonstration speech is one of the fundamental types of presentations.

Demo speeches are ubiquitous. They are assigned to students in high school and college. They are a staple in corporate and other adult training environments. They are among the most common speeches given in Toastmaster clubs.

Due to the popularity of this speech form, the well-rounded speaker must master the demonstration speech. Despite this, many speakers don’t know the basics to delivering an effective demonstration speech. Do you?

In this article, we present a demonstration speech outline which gives the best chance for success, and discuss the necessary elements for a great demo speech.

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You can’t give the speech of your life until you first give life to your speeches.

One way to breathe life into your speeches is to craft memorable phrases that will linger on the lips of your audience, and a great tool to help you achieve this goal is chiasmus.

In this article, we define what chiasmus is, study several famous (and not-so-famous) chiasmus examples, and give some tips for crafting chiasmus into your own speeches.

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A rhetorical question is a common rhetorical device where a question is asked by a speaker, but no answer is expected from the audience. This distinguishes it from explicit verbal audience interaction where a speaker asks a question, and then waits for a response or calls on someone to answer it.

You are certainly aware of this technique, but are you aware that you can use a rhetorical question in at least nine different ways? No? Read on!

This article identifies nine ways to use rhetorical questions, and provides examples throughout.

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When you think about charisma, who do you think about? Bill Clinton? Martin Luther King Jr.? Steve Jobs?

What about you? Do you have charisma?

Many speakers and non-speakers hold the belief that charisma is an innate gift — either you are born with it, or you aren’t.

But can you learn charisma? Recent research suggests that you can!

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Full-day training courses offer many challenges for speakers, including:

  • massive preparation requirements;
  • physical and mental fatigue (for both the speaker and audience); and
  • maintaining interest requires dynamic delivery and varied presentation techniques.

If you can overcome these challenges, you can provide significant value for your audience.

This past week, I was fortunate to attend a series of full-day training courses (Usability Week 2012 in San Francisco, offered by the Nielsen Norman Group). While my focus was building my usability knowledge, it was also a great opportunity to learn from people who speak regularly around the world. One of these speakers was Marieke McCloskey, who taught my first session of the week.

This article offers 28 tips for designing and presenting training courses inspired by Marieke’s strengths and areas for improvement.

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