By far, the best way to learn how to write speeches is to read the great ones, from Pericles’ Funeral Oration, to Dr. King’s Mountaintop speech, to Faulkner’s Nobel acceptance address. But if you’re looking for some quick tips, here are a few things to bear in mind next time you’re asked to give a speech:
1. Write like you talk. There is no First Law of Speechwriting, but if there were, it would probably be something like this: a speech is meant to be spoken, not read. That simple (and obvious) fact has a few important (and less obvious) implications. Use short words. Write short sentences. Avoid awkward constructions that might cause a speaker to stumble. Tip: Read the speech aloud as you’re writing. If you do it enough, you’ll start hearing the words when you type them.
2. Tell a story. I once wrote speeches for a governor whose aide told me: speechwriting is about slinging soundbites together. That approach is a recipe for writing neither good speeches nor good soundbites. Whenever we sat down to discuss a speech for the first time, President Obama would ask us: What’s the story we’re trying to tell? Like any good story, a speech has its own narrative arc. For the President, it’s usually a slow warm-up, a substantive middle, and an inspirational end. That’s his style. Tell your story in whatever way feels natural. Tip: A good story can be a lot more powerful than the most compelling facts and statistics.
3. Structure matters. It’s usually harder to figure out the right structure for a speech – the order of the points to make – than the words themselves. The order of those points matters because an argument that’s clear and logical is more likely to be persuasive. There is a reason that some of America’s greatest speechwriters – from Lincoln to JFK’s speechwriter Ted Sorensen to President Obama himself – studied the law, a profession that values the ability to make a logical argument. Tip: Lists (like this one) are one way to impose a structure on a speech.
4. Be concise. It is said that Woodrow Wilson once gave the following reply to a speaking request: “If you’d like me to speak for five minutes, I’ll need a month to prepare. If you’d like me to speak for 20 minutes, I’ll need two weeks. But if you’d like me to speak for an hour, I’m ready right now.” As Wilson knew, it’s harder to be concise than verbose. But the best way to make a point is concisely, as Churchill did when he announced during a wartime address: “The news from France is very bad.” Next time you think you can’t afford to cut that paragraph you love, remember: the Gettysburg Address, perhaps the greatest speech in American history, is fewer than 300 words. Tip: Challenge yourself to cut as many words as possible from each sentence without losing the line’s meaning.
5. Be authentic. If you’ve ever given a speech, you’ve probably been told, “Just speak from the heart.” It’s not very helpful writing advice, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Once, when we were writing President Obama’s 2008 Democratic Convention address, we got stuck on a certain section of the speech. The President advised us: Think about the moment we’re in, think about what the country is going through, and write something that feels true. It was a helpful reminder to stop focusing on polls and soundbites and simply say something we believed in as simply as we could. Tip: Sharing a personal story can help you find your voice and build a connection with the audience.
6. Don’t just speak – say something. When Michelangelo was tasked with painting the Sistine Chapel, he considered it a thankless job. He would have much rather spent his time sculpting than painting. But he used the occasion to paint perhaps the most revered fresco in history. So, the next time you’re asked to speak, don’t just write a speech, write a great one. A speech’s greatness has as much to do with its values as anything else. No one remembers the speeches of segregationists, though there were no doubt eloquent preachers spewing hate in the days of Jim Crow. No one remembers Hitler’s speeches, though few would dispute his oratorical prowess. Of course, Hitler, like the segregationists, lost. But it’s also because hope will always be more compelling than hate. It’s no accident that the best-known, best-loved speech in history – the Sermon on the Mount – is an articulation of humanity’s highest ideals. Tip: Before sitting down to write, get inspired by reading great speeches from collections like William Safire’s “Lend Me Your Ears.”
Adam Frankel is VP, External Affairs at Andela. Previously, he was Special Assistant and Senior Speechwriter to President Barack Obama.
If you’ve been asked to prepare a presentation, it’s time to look for good topics for presentations and choose the one that suits you best. A wide range of choices can be a real problem and you’ll have to spend a lot of time choosing the topic instead of working on your presentation.
Choosing Good Topics for Presentations Rules
By following two simple rules, you’ll choose your presentation topic without any effort:
- Pick the subject you are interested in. Topic knowledge and its thorough understanding will make the presentation preparing process easy and exciting.
- Choose a topic that is easy to illustrate by pictures – they will definitely increase your message retention.
Choosing Good Topics for Presentations Secrets
- Good topics for presentations should follow the writer’s passion and personal interests.
- The best choice is to write about holidays and hobbies. You won’t face any problems with photos and illustrations. When picking a hobby topic, make sure you don’t use jargon. Make it understandable for everyone. There is no need to tell you hobbies can be extremely varied and exciting.
- The main aim of the presentation is to attract the reader’s attention and the way to do this is you should choose yourself.
Ideas of Good Topics for Presentations
- Teen smoking.
- Prostitution is a profession by choice.
- Unusual career choices.
- Internet vs newspapers.
- Social networking effects.
- Is it necessary to abolish death penalty?
- Are vampires real?
- Does God really exist?
- Interesting information about Mars (as a planet).
- The purpose of life.
While preparing the presentation you’ll develop your public speaking skills and will be able to cope with stage fright. A good presentation should stimulate the audience to think over and analyze your ideas.
Good Topics for Presentations
- Should teenagers receive cash for doing household chores as an encouragement?
- What do you think about introducing separate classrooms for boys and girls?
- What do you think about students and teachers befriending each other on Facebook? What are the potential issues?
- Should America convert to the metric system? Why or why not?
- Is it better to close schools if the majority of its students perform poorly on standardized tests?
- Should teachers wear uniforms to school?
- Would you read an LGBTQ friendly fairy tale to your kid?
- Should kids’ cartoons be reviewed and censored to eliminate the depiction of violence?
- Is the “leave everything and travel” attitude advertised by magazines and blogs good or bad for you?
- What kind of punishment is the most suitable in schools?
- Should students be introduced to religion at school?
- Should a working husband help his full-time-mom wife after he comes home from work?
- What are the most important recent inventions made in the past five years?
- What is your favorite quote and why?
- Should high school football programs receive a lower budget?
- Should the school year be longer or shorter?
- Suggestions on improving the educational system in the US.
- Suggestions on improving the healthcare system in the US.
- Should parents control the time that teenagers dedicate to the Internet or computer games?
- The impact of beauty contests on the self-esteem and body image of women.
- What is the possibility of Mars being inhabited by humans some day?
- Discuss the mandatory reporting practice in healthcare.
- Should organ donation after death be encouraged?
- Find out about your region’s local folklore and traditions.
- How do you find the most important words if you need to learn a foreign language quickly?
- Where do superstitions come from?
- What is dyslexia and how can you help a person suffering from it?
- Why can feral children never adapt after being found by humans and brought back to society?
- Where was the first writing system invented and why?
- How has social media impacted your life?
- Should plastic surgery be banned unless a person has some severe physical conditions that lower the quality of life?
- Should political studies be included in the high school curriculum?
- How can we become more tolerant and accept diversity regarding race, religion and political views?
- Is globalization good or bad for mankind?
- Does Christianity have any impact on a modern person’s mentality and view of the world?
- Can euthanasia decrease suicide rates?
- Should parents be prohibited from giving children exotic names?
- Does texting worsen our vocabulary and writing abilities?
- Are GMOs safe for our health? Should they be banned?
- What is the difference between a religion and a cult? How do you spot the latter?
- Describe the most iconic person representing your country/region/city.
- Is nuclear power better that solar power?
- Should a 5-day week be changed to a 4-day week?
- What are the main risks of creating a human-like artificial intelligence?
- Should bloggers be treated as journalists and punished for providing wrong information?
- Will it help to reduce child obesity if school cafeterias serve only healthy food?
- Gambling should not be abolished, since it isn’t harmful and encourages tourism. Agree or disagree?
- Should online teaching be treated as equal to the regular form of teaching?
- Should standardized tests be eliminated? If so, what are other ways of assessing children’s knowledge?
- Should automobile drivers be fined for polluting the environment?
- Should athletes’ salaries be limited?
- What are the best ways to encourage apolitical people to vote?
- Will the advancement of computer technologies make printed books disappear?
- What are some of the most iconic examples of censorship throughout history?
- The effects of computer mediated communication on our working and everyday lives.
- Is daydreaming a useful or harmful activity for you?
- Internet access should be free worldwide. Agree or disagree?
- Is it acceptable for a state to fund schools that popularize a certain religion?
- The three most popular conspiracy theories.
- Are there any benefits to playing video games?
Good Topics for Presentations: Help
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