How to write a speech

You need to consider many things when writing a speech and planning how you will deliver it.

You will have to establish the purpose of the speech, gather information about your audience, seek subject matter and prioritise it, and decide what technique to use in your delivery. All of these are extremely important, but if your speech is to succeed it firstly must be built on a firm foundation.

If you are in your early days as a public speaker you should have a simple foundation. The simplest consists of an:




Why should you take care about the foundation, or structure, of your speech:

  • It will make your speech easier for your audience to follow.
  • It will stop you from getting side-tracked.
  • It will encourage you to adopt a chronological approach.
  • It will encourage you to link the three sections.
  • It encourages your logical thinking and the lets the audience easily follow you. Consider the size of each speech section, just as you would consider the size of each room in any house you were about to build. People generally like to see what is being built. If they can see the foundation you are working from they will be reassured that you know what you are doing.

Next you need to consider the approximate amount of time you should spend on each area. There is no hard and fast rule about this, but as a general rule in a five-minute speech your opening should be no more than about 30 to 45 seconds, with a similar time being devoted to your conclusion.

That leaves you with three to four minutes for the body of the speech. Work on a similar ratio for longer speeches. It is important to smoothly transition between the parts of your speech so you do not end up with 3 individual speeches. View your speech as a whole. Some speakers use the pattern of telling the audience what they are going to tell them, telling them, and then telling them what they have told them. This will reinforce your message, but beware it can become boring, especially in a short speech.

How can you construct of a full speech.


  • This is where you have the opportunity to grab your audience’s attention. You need to make them want to listen to your entire speech.
  • Keep it short and uncomplicated.
  • Be different and innovative.
  • Consider using a telling but easily understood statistic.
  • Try injecting some drama.
  • Set the scene for the main body. Use the end of your opening as a bridge.

Main Body

  • Develop your main points chronologically.
  • Use the points you wish to cover in decreasing level of importance.
  • Work from minor to major points.
  • Offer both sides of an argument, either offering a for and against argument on a point by point basis, or all for, followed by all against.
  • Draw on your personal experiences and relate them to your audience.

It may help to remember these tips:

  • Choose a consistent construction style throughout your speech.
  • Don’t give conflicting messages.
  • Support your speech with opinions, quotations, facts, figures and examples.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Don’t try to cover too many points.
  • Aim to have your audience remember at least one central idea or message.
  • Lead smoothly to your conclusion.


  • Make your conclusion brief and to the point.
  • Use it to encapsulate your speech, referring back to your opening if possible.
  • Know it by heart so you can deliver it with conviction.
  • Consider using it to summarise your speech.
  • Try using it to urge your audience to take a particular course of action.
  • Use it to leave your audience with a word picture.
  • Leave the audience in no doubt as to your opinion.
  • Tell them where they can go to get further information.
  • Don’t thank the audience for listening. They will thank you by their applause.

Experiment with various types of construction in future speeches, but make sure you can handle the basics first.

Taken from the Rostrum publication “Tips on Public Speaking and Meeting Procedures. Vol. 1” – a collection of 30 handouts by Ron Johnson.

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