You have been asked to deliver a speech/talk because you are well-spoken and intelligent.
How formal your language is depends on your audience – if you are delivering a speech to the UN or world leaders your tone will be very formal. If you are addressing your classmates you can be more informal – but if the Principal and parents are there don’t overdo the informality. Never curse.
- Address the audience – welcome them, address them directly frequently during your speech and again at the end.
- Present your topic and opinion immediately.
- Use the pronouns ‘we’ ‘us’ ‘our’ to make the listener feel that you’re all in this together.
- Rhetorical Q ‘s keep the listener’s attention.
- Repetition of key persuasive phrases hammer the idea home
e.g. “We must never accept….we must never allow” e.g.“It is foolish to think…it is foolish to presume”
- Connecting phrases create a flow & help build a series of related ideas for the reader
e.g. ‘however’ ‘therefore’ ‘thus’ ‘nonetheless’ ‘of course’ ‘furthermore’ ‘similarly’ ‘indeed’ ‘if’ ‘on the one hand’ ‘on the other hand’ ‘besides’ ‘by contrast’ ‘this reminds me of…’
- Concrete examples/evidence are absolutely essential – they prove you know your topic.
- Facts/Statistics make your opinions seem watertight & beyond discussion. Name the source report, the researcher, their qualifications and the institution they are affiliated to.
- Refute counter arguments – point out why those who disagree with you are wrong. Prove that their arguments are weak, flawed and incorrect.
- Clear, logical structure is vital – one main idea per paragraph, develop each idea fully.
- Contrast is an excellent technique because it allows the audience to see things more clearly. You could contrast past and present; males and females; powerful and powerless individuals; rich and poor; knowledgable and ignorant etc…
- Identify problems but also offer solutions – nobody likes a whinger, we much prefer visionaries who can offer us a better way forward.
- End with a call to action – what is it that you want your audience to do? Don’t give out to them, inspire them. Suggest practical steps towards change that they can take.
Some techniques work well in a persuasive speech but less suitable in an argumentative debate. Use the following in moderation in a debate, but extensively in a persuasive speech:
- Vivid imagery will arouse an emotional response in the reader (the real aim of persuasion)
- Hyperbole makes the speech more dramatic for the reader (your passion will inspire them).
- Evoke God, the bible, Einstein or Shakespeare so you come across as morally powerful and intellectual. Evoke big ideas like justice, truth, right, wrong.
Speeches v’s Debates: What’s the difference?
A speech can look at an issue from all sides (balanced view) or can take a one-sided viewpoint (revealing a bias)– it’s up to the writer. Appeal to the audience’s emotions.
A debate differs from a speech in that you are specifically asked to speak for or against the motion/topic. You MUST pick a side. Appeal to the audience’s reason & intelligence
Here the purpose is not to discuss an issue in a balanced way, but to convince the audience through LOGICAL arguments that your point of view is the correct one.
Speeches v’s Radio Talks: What’s the difference?
- A radio talk tends to be more informal.
- You address the listeners rather than the audience/fellow students/world leaders.
- You may be interrupted by the DJ from time to time. You can write these ‘interruptions’ into your answer, but remember, this isn’t an interview so you’ll do almost all of the talking. It should not be written in Q and Ans. format – that’s what you do for an interview.
- To make your answer more realistic you may wish to name a specific radio show/presenter e.g. “Well Ray” “Talk to Joe” “Hello Marian”.
- If you imagine that a particular word or phrase should be said loudly or with strong emphasis, write it in block capitals OR underline it OR make a comment in brackets. e.g. Can they be serious? (in disbelief) e.g. I’ll never forget her face (shaking head sadly) e.g. We CANNOT allow this injustice to continue. e.g. This is the only way forward.
Only use 1 of these stylistic choices & don’t overdo it. Use occasionally not every sentence.