Skillful speeches

Home learning focus

Discover what makes a powerful speech, and apply the techniques of some famous speech writers to your own writing.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos to help you understand what makes an effective speech and make your own speeches powerful and engaging

  • three activities

Learn

A speech is a formal talk given to an audience and the language of a speech should target and interest the listeners.

There are a range of language techniques that can help to make your speech more powerful.

Watch this short clip to understand how to write an effective speech.

Find out how to write a speech

Think carefully about your audience. Choose language to target and interest your listeners. A speech to a group of teenagers may use very different language compared to a speech for local councillors.

Think about the purpose of your speech - are you hoping to persuade, inform, advise, entertain or argue? Many speeches will have more than one purpose.

Structuring your speech

Keep the structure simple to help the audience follow your points and ideas. Think about which points are more important and focus on reinforcing them. You may want to put your most important points near the beginning of the speech. Include supporting examples and facts, but don’t overload the speech with too much detail.

The opening

Start with an opening that hooks your audience. Get their attention and prepare them to focus on the words that will follow.

For example, you could use:

  • A powerful image - ‘Imagine a huge clock - the slow, steady tick filling this room. Counting away the seconds and minutes we have left to act.’.

  • Humour - ‘You can take my advice … I’m not using it!’.

  • A shocking or surprising fact - ‘Did you know that a million species have already vanished from our world?’

Keep listeners engaged by using techniques such as repetition, quoting an expert and using a statistic - these details can make your speech more convincing and give authority to your arguments.

The ending

It could be useful to include phrases directed at the audience that highlight you’re ending the speech:

  • ‘I hope these ideas I’ve shared today will fill your thoughts on the way home.’

  • ‘Thank you all for listening today.’

  • ‘My final message to you is …’

Or you may want to finish your speech with a powerful image, question or memorable idea:

  • ‘You hold our fragile future in your hands - don’t break it.’

  • ‘Do we really have any other choice?’

  • ‘When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you have done?’

Practise

Activity 1

Check your understanding. Find out how much you know about how to write a speech in this short quiz.

Activity 2

Imagine that you have been asked to give a speech to a group of older people who are reluctant to use the internet about the benefits of using computers, digital resources and online content. How can you make your speech memorable and persuasive?

Write out what you would say in your speech and aim for at least five convincing points to your argument.

Top tip!

Remember to keep listeners engaged by using a variety of techniques to make points memorable.

For example, you could begin:

I am here for one reason today: to convince you that technology can change your lives for the better.

Activity 3

To take this further and challenge yourself take a look first a sample political speech provided by Twinkl. This speech is designed to be persuasive.

Download and read the speech here.

Now take a look at the persuasive speech analysis sheet linked below and pull out examples of each technique.

  • Copy out or print the table on pages one to three.
  • You may want to have a dictionary to hand to look up some of the terms.
  • Find an example from the speech where each technique has been used.
  • Complete the table with your thoughts on why each technique is effective.

You will find the answers are on pages four to six of the speech analysis sheet.

Persuasive techniques activity sheet
document

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt about how to make speeches as interesting and powerful as possible.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you make your speech writing interesting and engaging.

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