How to Become a Better Speechwriter

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 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.

Michael Gladkoff

How to Work with a Speech Writer to Get the Best Results

As a professional speech writer, I am often asked, “How can you write a speech for other people?” and “How can you possibly know what to write for a person you don’t know very well?”

The simple answer is that a speech writer doesn’t sit down and spontaneously write a speech once given the speech writing project.  A professional speech writer needs to follow a step-by-step process to create an effective speech.

Steps a Speech Writer Can Take to Create a Speech

1. The speech writer will need to know the objectives of the speech. What is the speaker trying to achieve? What is the main message of the speech? This information can be conveyed through a written brief provided or by interviewing the speaker or others involved. Any relevant background documents should be supplied to the speech writer at this stage.

2. The writer should gain an understanding of who will be in the audience. This includes their connection to the speaker, their backgrounds and education levels, personal characteristics (if this can be generalised) and knowledge of the subject. For example, this will help the speech writer determine the type of language to use and whether key terms and concepts need to be explained.

3. It will help the speechwriter to know the context of the speech and the venue where it will be delivered. The event and venue can influence the way a speech is written. For instance, the venue might be connected with the theme of the speech and it could be appropriate to mention the venue during the speech.

4. Once the speechwriter has a brief and the background material, and knows about the audience, it’s time to interview the speaker. This is the best way to learn about the speaker’s personality and ideas on the subject. The speaker might have a personal story that reinforces the message, and the  speech writer can gain these insights is by interviewing the speaker in person or over the phone. Alternatively, if the speaker is too busy for the interview, the speech writer can submit questions for a written response.

(I have written speeches for busy executives and politicians based only on the brief and background documents. I feel these speeches were not as effective as they could have been because I did not have the personal insights, ideas and stories that can only be gained from conducting an interview. )

5. Once the writer has all this information, it’s time to start writing. After the first draft is complete, the redrafting process begins. To help with this process, the speech writer can read the speech out loud and rewrite anything that seems awkward to deliver or doesn’t sound natural.

6. When the  speechwriter is satisfied with the draft, it can be submitted to the speaker. After reviewing the draft, the speaker can make notes or discuss the changes required. The speech writer will use the feedback provided to create the final draft.

A professional speech writer does not sit down and dream up content for a speaker. As shown, it takes thorough research, clear communication and rigorous thinking to create a speech that fits the speaker, conveys the message and pleases the audience.

Michael Gladkoff

Note: speech writer can also be spelled speechwriter.