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How To Make A Speech Outline

How To Make A Speech Outline

Preparation is the key to writing and delivering a great speech, and in this video, Lawerence Berstein of greatspeechwriting.co.uk shares his tips for how to write an outline for any type of speech.

Hi, I'm Lawerence Berstein, a professional speech writer, and I run greatspeechwriting.co.uk, and irrespective of the sort of speech that you're going to give, there are 2 or 3 key things to bear in mind.

Firstly, there is nothing to beat preparation. Hopefully, you are not watching this 24 hours before you're due to give your speech, the more time you give yourself, the better. Second of all, don't worry about speaking too long.

Often a 5-minute speech is much much more powerful and impactful than a 20-minute one, and brevity is often the key. And finally, although a lot of the videos that I've created are about writing a speech, please remember that you can't think about writing and delivering separately, they're one and the same, you're writing to make the speech easy to deliver. And if you think of it that way, then the thing should work.

So you've got a speech to start, and the first place to start is creating an outline for it. So my first tip is, don't ignore this part of the process. It's all too easy, particularly if you're in a rush, just to start writing, but in doing that you are minimizing your chances of getting this thing right, because a good structure or outline can be absolutely key.

So I would start actually, not by trying to create sections of your speech or anything like that, but by dumping onto paper anything and everything you can think of that you might need to say. That can cover anything from a thank you to a toast, people you'd like to mention, stories you'd like to include, and so you may end up with pages and pages of information, that will get you thinking about the speech, thinking about the content, and understanding where the structuring process is actually going to work and what it's got to do. At that point, structuring begins, because you can step aside from the information you've got there and look at the best way of pulling it together.

And the first thing to do is to look at those elements in the speech that you must say, or the "must haves", and those that might be quite nice to bring the thing to life, or the "might haves". And so many speeches lose their effectiveness because people go through a whole list of must haves at the beginning, like they're ticking a box, or going through a school register, and on that basis by having your "must haves" on one hand, and your "might haves" on the other, the structure will give you the ability to weave those together. Now, in deciding actually the impression you want the speech to create, and the core to that structure, you need to work backwards and decide what you actually want your audience to do when the speech is over.

Do you want them to have learned something, do you want them to know one or two key next steps, do you want them to be laughing their heads off, do you want them to be crying in empathy with some of the emotional stuff you've given? And whichever outcome you're looking to create, then obviously this needs to play an important part in your structure and understanding where the balance between the human sincerity will lie. That balance is something that is not necessarily going to reflect the sincerity of the subject, a eulogy can often be a much funnier speech than a groom's speech at a wedding. A sales presentation with the most turgid information in it will often be brought to life by humor.

And again in your structure, you can be looking for ways of pulling together the emotional and the factual to create something that little bit more original and in tune with what your audience actually wants to hear, rather than with what perhaps you thought originally you wanted to tell them. Now, in terms of pulling those bits together, the key is to find a theme. Find something that will act as the cement between the bricks of the various facts and stories you want to tell, or if it's more of a work-based thing, something that will give the audience a reason for listening, and something to understand, to l