Whether preparing for a business presentation, wedding speech or fundraising event, many people know what they want to say, but just can’t get the words on the page.

Question mark written on page

The important thing to remember at this formative stage is that the finished product needs to be read aloud. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of writing down your wedding speech like an ‘essay’. It looks great on paper, but sounds downright odd when you read it out.

So how do you write down your speech in a way that will come across well on the day?

Use Short, Punchy Sentences

Brevity is important. Six to eight words per sentence is ideal.

Break Up Longer Sentences Into Manageable Sections

Use dots… to mark convenient places for you to pause… and breathe.

Don’t Be Afraid to Use Conjunctions (and/but) at the Start of Some Sentences

It may not be perfect grammar, but they reflect the way that people speak out loud and can keep the flow of the speech moving without any awkward pauses.

Type Each Section of Your Speech Separately

For example, after the section where you introduce yourself, hit the ‘Enter’ key a couple of times so you have a few lines of space. This will help you remember where to pause.

After a Few Minutes of Writing, Step Away from the Computer to Clear Your Head

When you return, have a look at what you wrote last and delete every word that doesn’t seem to add any value.

Read Sentences Aloud After You Have Written Them

This may make you feel a bit bonkers if you’re sitting alone in front of a computer. However, it’s an invaluable way of instantly discovering what sounds right (and more importantly, what doesn’t). This technique will help you get rid of tongue twisters and other words that you aren’t comfortable delivering.

Use the Word Count Function on Your Computer

Work on the basis that 500 words should take you approximately five minutes to deliver. If maths isn’t your strong point, that means that to keep the speech within 10 minutes, you need to keep it under 1,000 words!

I appreciate that much of this (as ever) is just common sense, but I hope it helps you get started.

Guest post by Lawrence Bernstein of Great Speech Writing

Image from Flickr by Ethan Lofton (CC BY 2.0 License)

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