When the printing press was perfected over 600 years ago, it would seem that speeches might be made obsolete. After all, print what you would say, hand it out and be done with it.
However, there is still a place in the business world and the world at large for a well crafted, well delivered speech. Lincoln’s second inaugural, Roosevelt’s four freedoms, Churchill’s blood sweat and tears, Kennedy’s inaugural, King’s I have a dream are all examples of stirring prose delivered in a charismatic way.
Formal speeches are different from presentations in that they are totally dependent upon the speaker. There is usually no visual aids, no audience participation and it is limited in time and scope.
Examples of formal speeches include religious sermons, graduation speeches, CEO addresses and after dinner speeches. All are dependent upon the speaker and delivery.
These types of speech presentations are most thought of by the general public as that to be most feared. In fact, Americans list fear of public speaking above the fear of death in most polls.
Today, we will focus on getting started in writing a speech and over the next few weeks we will discuss methods and delivery.
The start of a good speech begins with an examination of three things. They are:
1. The objective
2. The topic
3. The audience
What is the objective of the speech? Is it to announce a new product? Is it to evangelize the unchurched? Is it to defend a policy? These are all objectives of a speech. These are what the speaker desires to accomplish.
The topic could encompass all of the objective or only a part. It may be that the objective is overly large and needs to be developed or achieved over time. For example a president wishing to send people to the moon may have to make a number of speeches defining this objective. Encompassing the entire objective may be necessary due to the fact that the speaker is only visiting this area for a limited time. For example, a country may only allow a diplomat a single speech in the time of a visit.
Finally who is the audience and what are their needs? A school board chairman will make a different speech to fifth graders then the one she will make to the parents that evening. The objective and the topic may be identical but the speech will be completely different.
Also important about knowing the audience is the current context of the audience. What cultural differences are present? What are the backgrounds of the people in the audience?
Once all of these factor are considered then comes the time to fashion the speech. Next time, we will look at ways to develop and organize the speech.