A speech can be a very effective and personal way to share your opinion on a topic. You may be asked to deliver a speech in a humanities class, or if you are running for a leadership position in an extracurricular. Some jobs even require you to give speeches. Should you be presenting an argument – a very common type of speech – here are four ways to make your points stronger:
1. Be concise
Remember that you are speaking, not writing. Complicated sentence structure and highly advanced or technical vocabulary may be valued in some types of writing, but they are not necessarily well received in speeches. Be specific with your examples – avoid generalizations and blanket statements – but be concise at the same time. Be aware of your minimum and maximum time limits, and lean toward the minimum if you can. Just like poetry, where every word is significant and carries weight, try cutting out as many words as possible while still retaining your meaning. In speeches, you will want to keep your audience’s attention, and crafting a short argument may help you accomplish that aim. Knowing how to give a presentation is another key element to a successful speech.
2. Know all sides of the issue
Before writing your speech, make sure you do comprehensive research on your topic. If it’s a popular subject, keep up-to-date on what’s happening, and tweak your speech accordingly, adding or taking out details as appropriate. Your speech may be stronger if your audience feels that you’re sensitive to current events. In addition, consider addressing the opposing side and finding elements you agree with. All important topics are highly nuanced; if you recognize the complexities and acknowledge points from the opposing side, you may appear much more flexible and thoughtful. Your argument will consequently become stronger as well.
3. Know your audience
Always modify the content of your speech to suit your audience. If your audience isn’t familiar with your topic, you will need to include concise background information. If your audience does know the topic well, you can skip some of the background, and move to the heart of your argument more quickly. Be careful not to assume too much – you do not want to risk losing your audience because they don’t understand what you’re talking about. Remember that your audience consists of people. Be genuine, and consider telling a personal story. This can help you build rapport with your audience. Know the different persuasive approaches, including ethos (appeals to ethics/morals), pathos (appeals to emotions), and logos (appeals to logic). You might focus on one, or you can employ a combination of the three.
4. Think about order and structure
Your argument will be stronger if it is efficiently organized. Decide ahead of time how many points you will have, choosing a number that is manageable for your listeners. Use a list, outline, or flowchart to help you structure your thoughts. Look at all of your points to see how they might build on one another, as well as how they may flow best in a certain order. Your audience should always be able to follow your logic. The note organizing tips may help you organize your thoughts.
After considering the above ways to make arguments stronger in speeches, practice aloud to yourself, with a friend, or with a public speaking tutor. You should be able to hear the awkward words or sentences, and to see what might need to be added or removed. Create notecards, prepare any visual aids, and get ready to blow your audience away!