How to Write a Formal Speech

By Chantel Alise ; Updated September 15, 2017

The fear of speaking in public is one of the most common fears. Oftentimes that fear has nothing to do with being uncomfortable in front of crowds. Whether one or 100 individuals are involved is of little consequence. The concern actually stems from a fear of being unprepared or flubbing the delivery. Below are some pointers on how to write a formal speech so that it can be delivered effectively.

Decide the topic if one has not already been assigned. Choose a slant within the topic with which you are comfortable. This will make it easier to write an effective piece.

Establish a time frame for the speech. Just because you are given 30 minutes to make the speech, that does not mean you have to take the entire amount of time. Use only the time needed to deliver a solid presentation.

Do your research. Even if the speech topic is something with which you are familiar, do not assume you have all of the answers. Research to bring in new angles or to update statistics.

Outline the main points of the speech. As a minimum, an outline should contain the introduction, body, conclusion and call to action, if appropriate.

Determine how to open the speech. Consider posing a question, stating a shocking statistic or citing a famous quote. It is imperative to get the audience’s immediate attention. If you lose them at the beginning, it is often hard to get them back. Do not forget to thank those who invited you and the audience you are addressing.

Consider giving a synopsis of the areas you will cover. If this information can be handed out rather than delivered verbally, that often works better. But if not, it is a good idea to let the audience know where you are going with your remarks.

Choose verbiage that is at the level of the average audience member. There is nothing that people hate more than speakers who attempt to speak over their heads. You will lose them right away and undermine the valuable knowledge you might have to share.

Hit points that are important to the audience. For example, if you are delivering a political speech, speak about the topics that are important to the public at the time.

Back up what you say. Never make wild accusations or state statistics that cannot be verified. Make notes on everything. This will be important in the event that questions are asked. Always have your references at hand.

Write, rewrite, and rewrite again if necessary. Practice the speech out loud between rewrites until you are happy with the way it flows and how you present it. Consider making notes or cue cards to use during the presentation.

Wrap up the topic. Again, think about delivering a startling fact, a famous quote or even a call to action. The end of the speech is just as important as the beginning.

Tip

Write the speech in the way you will deliver it. It needs to reflect who you are for it to ring true. Practice the speech in front of a mirror to make certain your facial and body expressions are appropriate to what you are saying. Have copies of the speech available for those who might request one. If you are going to have visuals, make sure you clearly mark where they will be delivered within the speech and have them prepared. Check out the space where the speech will be delivered ahead of time. Be sure the sound system works well if your voice does not project well.

Warning

Do not use slang, technical terms or industry language that the audience might not recognize. Never use curse words in any speech, formal or otherwise. Do not discourage questions. Be prepared to answer them.

About the Author

A business and education specialist for 30 years, Chantel Alise also owned a management and marketing training company. She has written newsletters and training manuals as well as business articles for Enid News and Eagle's Business Journal. She is principle writer for Beauty Biz. Alsie attended Thomas Nelson Community College (Virginia) and Phillips University (Oklahoma).