Margaret McGann

Give your speeches more sizzle

In communications and marketing, public relations, research, speechwriting, writing on February 22, 2010 at 9:10 am

We have all heard speeches we wish we had written. What makes those speeches so good? Did the speaker tell you a compelling story? Did it change your thinking and/or behaviour?

The best speeches tell an interesting story that paints word pictures in the minds of the audience and issues a call to action.

Here’s  are some tips to help you write those kinds of speeches. There are techniques and practices for writing speeches that can captivate an audience. For example, most successful speechwriters use this type of checklist when writing a speech.


  • Do you know the audience?
  • Do you have all the information you need to address this audience?
  • Do you need to interview the speaker?
  • Do you have a theme for the speech?
  • Can you state it in one sentence?
  • Have you divided your ideas/raw materials into sections?
  • Do you know what you want the audience to take away from the speech?


  • Are you using signposts to make smooth segues to new sections?
  • Are you using different sentence types?
  • Have you used first person? Contractions?
  • Are you mostly writing in sentences less than two lines or twenty words?
  • Are you using sentence fragments?
  • Is there emotion in this speech? What are you trying to make the audience feel?
  • If you are writing for someone else, does the style reflect the speaker’s identity?


  • Does the speech paint a picture for the audience?
  • Is it factually correct, interesting and convincing?
  • When you read the speech aloud does it sound conversational?
  • Will the speaker sound confident and action-oriented?
  • Do your numbers add up and are they accurate?
  • Have you eliminated noun clusters?
  • Are your verbs strong?
  • Does your main message come through clearly?
  • Can the audience tell when a new section of the speech begins?
  • Have you recapped the information and ended with a “call to action?”
  • Use spell check and a grammar checker (i.e., the Flesch-Reading Ease Level). The higher the reading ease level number the better. Values under 40 are unacceptable.

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