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Writing an award winning speech

Do you want to be able to write an award winning speech?

A speech so good that you could enter and win the Arthur Garvey Speaker of the Year?

Here is a bit of wisdom and wise words from some of Rostrum WA’s most experienced speakers.


Choose a topic.

This is possibly the hardest hurdle to get over. There are six possible speech topics for the heats. Susan suggests you eliminate the one you like least, then also the next least-liked, and so on until you have only two from which to choose–then ditch the less-preferred one. Simple.

Attach a theme to the topic.

Study the topic carefully–what do the words mean? Think laterally–can you attach a meaning that’s not immediately obvious? Brainstorm all possible meanings and angles until something appeals. Often it’s the first idea that’s the strongest.

Form an opinion about the topic/theme.

This becomes the message or moral of your speech and everything from this point on should contribute to successfully delivering this message to the audience.

Work out the ending.

Yes, the ending before the beginning. With the message in mind, write the ending to the speech. This is the most important part of the speech because it’s what you want the audience to take away, remember, and think about in the days to come. It has to be good—really good—so that the audience will be able to easily relate it back to the beginning and link up the rest of your speech into a whole. A good ending also becomes a goal for you to work towards when backfilling the rest of your speech.

Go back to the beginning and work out the rest of your speech.

Be aware of your audience when selecting material to include. The material needs to be appealing, easily understood (not too complicated), interesting and something that the audience can readily relate to. It also needs to be entertaining and you, as speaker, need to be credible, so check your facts. If the listeners aren’t comfortable they will soon lose interest and stop listening. They do not have to listen to you. It’s your job to make them want to.

Organise your material.

You’ll need an introduction to attract the listeners and show them where you want to take them, the body made up of discussion points arranged logically to develop the theme and tell the story, and the conclusion or ending which contains your take-home message.

Prepare it for presentation.

Edit, edit, edit. There is only so much you can speak effectively about in 10 minutes, and only so much the audience can take in. Use descriptive language and paint word pictures to carry your audience along. Can you use some appropriate gestures? Decide where to insert pauses and factor these into your timing.

Practise, practise, practise.

Timing is essential so memorise the last two minutes of your speech to enable you to go to that part of it on the eight-minute bell. It’s also useful to prepare a couple of sentences which you can include or drop as you approach the warning bell.

Information presented in a Dias Reps meeting workshop in 2014 by Karen Reid and Susan L’Herpiniere.