How to Write a Great Speech
TED Talks, here we come.
You can't avoid it. Someday, somewhere, you will have to be the best man or maid of honor at a dear friend's wedding. And when that time comes, you will have to stand up and give a speech. This course is your ticket to making sure that your speech has the bride or groom laughing and crying tears of joy rather than avoiding your gaze as they shift uncomfortably in their seat. Here, you'll learn
- how to hook your audience. No sharp pointy objects required; instead you'll use the Greek techniques of pathos, ethos, and logos.
- what not to do with your hands and feet.
- the best way to vary up your sentences and avoid putting people to sleep. Would you believe it involves grammar? Grammar: life of the party since the Stone Age.
- how to use personal anecdotes to make your audience feel like you're BFFs—and listen to what you have to say.
- the difference one voice can make, and how to use yours to enhance your message.
You'll learn all these techniques from the best, most impassioned speech givers of today and yesterday, all the while writing and delivering speeches about what you're passionate about, whether it's healthier snacks in your school vending machines, harsher punishments for parole violators, or world peace.
Twenty years from now when you're giving that speech at your dear friend's wedding, you'll think to yourself, "I'm so happy I took that speech class with Shmoop." And also, "When do we get to eat the cake?"
Unit 1. How To Write a Great Speech
This 12 lesson nano course is designed to teach students about rhetoric, introduce them to some great speakers, and teach them how to write and give a speech, all while hitting the Common Core 9-10 ELA standards.
Sample Lesson - Introduction
Lesson 3: Persuade Me, I Dare You
Some of the best public speakers are super enthusiastic. We're talking three venti double-shot lattés enthusiastic. But before we get into hand waving, shouting out to the audience, and jumping around on stage, let's start with what it is you're actually saying in a speech. You can jump around like a wild hyena on stage all you want, but if what you're saying is dull, pointless or confusing, you just look like a wild hyena.
So, what should you say in your speech? Well, that depends on your goal. A persuasive speech's goal is to convince our audience to think like we do, to make a change, to go out and do something or say something. Sometimes we even want someone to stop doing something. Want to convince your mom to stop driving past you at school and hollering out the window at you about visiting grandma's later? That's fair game for a persuasive speech.
But even once you've got your topic figured out, you have to remember that you are not writing an essay. Nope, you're writing something that people will hear, rather than read, which means that you need to present your ideas differently than you might in writing. That said, you can apply a few essay-writing tricks to speechwriting. We're talking stuff like:
- having a clear argumentative statement, or thesis.
- presenting boatloads of supporting evidence.
- linking it all together with strong topic and concluding sentences.
- grabbing your audience from the get-go with a killer intro.
- wrapping it all up in a bow with a great conclusion.
Doing this stuff takes some hard-core planning. You should plan your speech as seriously as you plan your approach to a Las Vegas all-you-can-eat buffet. Shmoop calls this the Essential Element of Speech #1: Organize and plan your content to reach the listener emotionally and mentally. And you are actually closer to nailing this than you realize.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Activity 1.3: More than Just Baloney
Essential Element of Speech #1: The meat. The stuff in the middle of the sandwich. The substance of your speech has to be more like the best roast beef you have ever had, not like baloney that's been in the fridge for two weeks.
When it comes to planning your speech sandwich, you've got lots of options. And what you choose should depend as much on your audience as your topic. Think about it: you wouldn't try to appeal to a vegan with a heap of pastrami on rye, would you? In the same way, the persuasive techniques you use in speechwriting will be different if you're trying to convince your parents vs. your BFFs, or an audience of preschoolers vs. your teachers (although everybody likes a good cookie bribe).
That's because you're not just out to convey information. You're also trying to appeal to your audience's eyes, ears, heads, and hearts through what we call ethos, logos and pathos. If these terms sound like Greek to you, read on to discover the strategies that will become the lifeblood of your persuasive techniques.
First, watch our handy dandy Shmoop video to get a handle on ethos, pathos, and logos.
- Course Length: 3 weeks
- Grade Levels: 9, 10
- Course Type: Short Course
- Life Skills
- High School
Just what the heck is a Shmoop Online Course?
Common Core Standards
The following Common Core Standards are covered in this course:CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1