It seems so easy when you are in the audience, listening to what you assume to be a “natural-born speaker,” someone perfectly at ease onstage, delivering well-prepared remarks. You can be that person, the next time you take the stage. Follow these guidelines:
1. Start at the end. Write the speech’s conclusion first. Decide what you want your listeners to do or think after hearing you speak. Let that purpose guide you as you write your speech.
2. Draft first; polish later. Don’t add pressure to the task by attempting to write a perfect speech the first time you address the task. An effective speech is the result of many rewrites.
3. Keep your focus where it belongs. Everything you say during your speech should address your listeners’ needs. Every line you draft should address your audience’s unspoken question: “What’s in it for me?” Listeners will not care about your speech until you show them why your words matter to them.
4. Write for one. The best speakers make each listener feel as if he or she is engaged in a one-on-one conversation. As you write your speech, picture one person and draft lines as if you are speaking with—rather than writing to—that person.
—Adapted from “Ten Top Tips for Writing a Memorable Speech,” Bill Cole, Procoach Systems, www.mentalgamecoach.com.