Whether you want to write speeches for yourself or others, here are a few steps that can help you develop your skills to become a better speechwriter. These prepared me to become a freelance speechwriter and assist professionals, business executives and government leaders with their speechwriting needs.
1. Join Toastmasters to become a more effective speechwriter
I first joined Toastmasters in the mid 1980s when I was attending university. The great thing about Toastmasters is that it gives you an opportunity to develop your presentation skills in a supportive environment. When you join a chapter, you receive a manual of 10 speech projects that you deliver over time to the group. Each speech has particular objectives that are important for effective communication — such as organising your speech, vocal variety, body language and using visual aids. After delivering your speech, you receive a constructive evaluation from one of the members. This gives you ideas to improve as you move forward. By continuing to write speeches and deliver them as part of the program, you will become a better speechwriter. You will also be able to observe more experienced members and see how they organise and present their speeches.
Although I have been in Toastmasters for many years, I still participate because I continue to learn more and improve my skills as a speech writer.
To learn more about Toastmasters, visit their website at www.toastmasters.org.au. I suggest visiting a few clubs in your area to find the one that best fits your personality and goals.
2. Read books on speech writing to become a better speechwriter
Reading books by professional speech writers is a great way to become a more effective speechwriter. Many speechwriters have written books in which they share their insights by using the speeches they have written for others as examples. These books provide the basics you can apply in your speeches. You can also find collections of great speeches from the past in your local library or book shop.
My book about speechwriting is based on my experience writing hundreds of speeches and presentations for leaders in business, government and education. You can find more details at The Leader’s Guide to Creating Powerful Speeches and Presentations.
3. Analyse speeches to become a more effective speechwriter
Observing and analysing speeches will help you improve your speechwriting skills. You can watch speeches and presentations on YouTube, attend business events where speeches are delivered, listen to podcasts of speeches and more. Watching and listening to effective speakers will give you ideas you can apply as a speechwriter. If a speech is not that good, you can think of ways you could improve it if you were writing it. Either way, you should critically analyse the speeches you observe and think about how they have been written.
4. Keep on practising to become a better speechwriter
Practising your skills is the key to becoming a better speechwriter. Writing speeches for yourself or others will give you the experience you need to improve. Before I began my career as a speechwriter, I wrote and presented over 50 speeches as a member of Toastmasters. Although I have written hundreds of speeches for clients since 2004, I continue to attend Toastmasters, read books about speechwriting and critically evaluate the speeches I hear.
Whatever your experience and objectives, there are always opportunities to grow and develop your skills as a speechwriter. These steps are not the only path to effective speechwriting, but they have worked well for me in becoming a better speechwriter.