The Value of a Great Speech
A good speech or a professional speech can make public speaking easy and a good speech opening can help to persuade
A good speech can express love, sway public opinion, entertain a family or hold a huge audience spellbound. A professional speaker will use his head to make it sound as though he is speaking from the heart. Public speaking is the art of being able to hold an audience enthralled, whatever the issue, wherever the venue. Like speechwriting itself it is an acquired art.
Some people are born with the gift of oratory; others must struggle to become articulate. There are professional speechwriters who write lectures for professors, homilies for clergyman and spiels for speakers. Then, of course, there are civil servants who write statements for politicians and orations for statesmen. There are wedding toasts, business addresses and funeral eulogies. A speech can express concern and compassion and be delivered with restraint or with passion. A speech is about reaching, perhaps teaching, your audience.
A speech must be suited to the occasion and to those who will hear it. You should never presume to write down to an audience but it is wonderful if your words can be uplifting. Speeches are more about content than length. Completing a speech with a relevant toast helps you end on a happy note.
The content, therefore, is critical. A wonderful opening will be forgotten if it is not followed by appropriate content and a riveting, or amusing, conclusion. So whether you want to persuade, inform or simply express your feelings publicly a speechwriter will help you phrase it properly.
You can convey your content in many different ways. You can assert your beliefs forcefully, communicate your feelings lovingly or put your case persuasively. You can be blunt and factual or lyrical, painting pictures with your words. An accent can add to the attraction of your speech, a dialect can give depth. That is of course if that dialect has a particular relevance to the content of the speech.
You be asked to speak at a trade union conference, a meeting of the World Bank or your local school’s annual general meeting. You brief may be to congratulate a colleague on promotion or to give the toasts at a formal function. You may have to give the keynote address at a conference or an after dinner speech at your corporation’s annual dinner. Yet whether you are speaking at your parent’s golden wedding anniversary, your friend’s birthday or a baby’s christening the same rules apply. You’re speech should always be appropriate to the audience and the occasion. The death of a child, for instance, must surely call for sympathy and support. The death of a very old person may call for a eulogy that celebrates a long and useful life and some humour may be very appropriate.
If the occasion is a family re-union your speech, should naturally reflect, in an informal way, shared memories, and shared experiences. If it is a military occasion it must reflect army protocol and experiences. If you are a local politician you may want to sway your voters by appealing to their self-interest. A toastmaster’s introductions must be appropriate. Every speech, whether serious and sad or wacky and mad, has its own underlying formula. That basic formula must always be “What am I trying to say and to whom?” The most stimulating speech is useless if it does not get your message across. So don’t be too smart, be simple. The FOC to whom journalists refer is the father of the chapel and not a foreign office correspondent.
You may use jargon, if you are talking to any group that will understand it. If, however, the audience is mixed you should only use language everyone will understand. If you are addressing a local gathering you may use local expressions, local landmarks but those allusions will be lost if you are talking in a strange town.
Your message may be unpopular but your arguments should always be reasoned and politely expressed. Charm, wit and understanding win more hearts than the most blatant verbal attacks. A good public speaker uses humour but is not a comedian. Its no use having them rolling in the aisles if they can’t remember afterwards why you spoke.
A good speech is like the sunny days of childhood. The nuances, the expressions may be forgotten but the memory lingers on. It says something that will never be forgotten.