If you can Dream it – You can Achieve it :)

Speech Writing

Posted on: June 14, 2010

Tips to Consider

Moving on, I have also learnt certain techniques to consider in speech writing. Some of them, I have used in my Toastmasters projects – in project 4 "How to Say it" of our Competent Communitor module – about words.

Many of the examples in the following tips are culled from John F Kennedy’s Inauguration Speech, delivered on January 20, 1961.


1. Alliteration [e.g. as different as chalk and
cheese, friend and foe, break the bond of mass misery. Readers will have
noticed that I loved alliteration. In my previous post, I taught my boy to use
"It was wild, it was wet. We were wowed by Wild, Wild Wet." This is a
combinition of alliteration and set of three.]

2. Anecdotes [basically a short story.]

3. Antithesis [Opposition and contrast. It is a
nice balance and play on words. E.g. "ask not what your country can do for
you – ask what you can do for your country." "united, there is little
we cannot do, divided, there is little we can do.]

4. Call to action [- usually it is position
towards the end of a speech "Let us go forth" ]

5. Contrasts [light and darkness, symbolizing an
end, as well as a beginning]

6. Conversation English

7. Definitions [ not a victory
of party,
but a
celebration of freedom. … not because … but because it is right/]

8. Humor with care

9. Quotations

10. Repetition

11. Rhetorical question [questions which you do
not expect an answer. E.g. "Will you join in that historic effort?"]

12. Rounded-off figures

13. Short sentences

14. Set of three

15. Similes (similar in one way) and metaphors (similar in all aspects – more powerful than similes) (E.g. "Now the trumpet summons us again – not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need – not as a call to battle, though embattled we are – but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle…"]

16. Simple words

17. Sound bites [e.g."Let us never negotiate
out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."]

18. Statistics [use them sparringly]

19. Transitions

20. Vivid imagery [e.g. "that torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…"


– Cliches (expressions that are no longer fresh. E.g. at this moment in time, without further ado, last but no least – just us "finally". We work 24/7, on that note) and platitudes (Sentences that say something that is true but people have heard it so many times. E.g. "Change is the only constant.")


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Toastmaster, Usability, Interactive Design, Graphic Design

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