Planning and Delivering a Speech

Before you begin planning your speech, understand your audience. Who are they? What are their interests? What level of knowledge might they have about your topic?

Tailoring your speech to your audience will make it more engaging and effective. Next, define the purpose of your speech. Are you aiming to inform, persuade, entertain, inspire, or a combination of these? This will guide the content of your speech.

Developing a Clear, Focused Message or Argument

Your speech should have a clear, focused message or argument. This is the ‘big idea’ or point that you want your audience to understand and remember.

For example, if you’re delivering a speech about the importance of mental health awareness, your central message might be, “Society must prioritise mental health equally with physical health to truly promote overall well-being.”

Structuring the Speech

A well-structured speech has a clear introduction, body and conclusion, each tailored to engage the audience:

Introduction: Your speech should open with an attention-grabbing statement or an anecdote that will draw your audience in. After capturing their attention, introduce your topic clearly and outline your central argument or key message.

  • For example, if your speech is about promoting healthier lifestyle choices, you might start with a startling statistic about the increasing rates of obesity.

Body: The body of your speech is where you delve into your main points. Each point should be clearly articulated and supported with relevant evidence or examples. To maintain your audience’s engagement, it’s important to have smooth transitions from one point to the next.

  • For instance, after discussing the implications of an unhealthy lifestyle, smoothly transition to the solutions or actions that can be taken.

Conclusion: This is your chance to reinforce your argument and leave a lasting impression on your audience. Restate your main points and central argument, and end with a powerful call to action or a thought-provoking statement.

  • If your speech was about healthier lifestyle choices, your conclusion could re-emphasise the importance of this issue and end with a call to action encouraging your listeners to make healthier choices in their daily lives.

Using Rhetorical Devices and Persuasive Techniques

Rhetorical devices and persuasive techniques can enhance your speech and make it more compelling. Here are some examples:

  • Rhetorical Questions – These are questions posed for their persuasive effect, not to elicit an answer.
  • Repetition – Repeating key phrases can emphasise your message.
  • Anecdotes – Personal stories can make your speech more relatable.

Consider the use of visual aids to reinforce or clarify your points. They can be helpful if you’re explaining complex ideas, presenting data or wanting to make a strong emotional impact.

Planning Voice, Pace, Gesture and Other Performance Techniques

The way you deliver your speech can significantly impact how effective it is. Some performance techniques you can use to increase the effectiveness of your speech are:

  • Voice variation – Vary your volume and pitch to keep your audience engaged. You might raise your volume to emphasise a key point or lower it to create suspense.
  • Pace control – Adjust your speaking speed according to the mood and content of your speech. You might speak quickly to show excitement, or slowly to allow a complex idea to sink in.
  • Effective gestures – Use body language to reinforce your words. For example:
Open PalmsSuggests honesty, openness and receptivity – Invites the audience into the conversation.
PointingUnderlines key points – Directs the audience’s attention to specific areas or concepts.
Broad, Sweeping MotionsEmphasises large-scale impacts or ideas – Demonstrates the size or scope of the issue.
Small, Contained MotionsExpresses intricate details or precision – Highlights the importance of a specific point or idea.
Fist ClenchExpresses determination or resolve – Can indicate a firm stance or commitment.
Hands on HeartSuggests sincerity and conviction – Indicates a deep personal belief or emotional investment in the topic.
Hand to Chin or Forehead (Thinker Pose)Indicates deep thought or contemplation – Can emphasise a complex idea or decision.
Gesturing to SelfDraws attention to oneself as the source of the story or information. This can be useful when giving a personal anecdote or account.
Gesturing to the AudienceInvolves the audience directly. It can help in encouraging participation or signifying a shared experience.

Delivering the Speech Under Exam or Assessment Conditions

In an exam or assessment, you’ll need to deliver your speech clearly, confidently, and persuasively. These tips will help you:

  • Practice – The more you practice your speech, the more confident you’ll be.
  • Engage with Your Audience – Make eye contact and respond to their reactions.
  • Use Notes – If allowed, use notes to remind you of your main points.
  • Time Management – Make sure your speech fits within the given time limit.
  • Managing Nervousness – Everyone gets nervous, but deep breathing and practising can help reduce nervousness.