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6 Steps to write an impressive Keynote speech

Writing a Keynote speech can be a daunting task. That’s why so many speakers don’t bother writing their speeches. They just keep the pointers ready and speak with the flow. There is nothing wrong with this approach. It works for most people.

However, there are certain benefits of sitting down and typing a speech word by word. Some of these benefits are:

  • Absolute clarity of content

  • Helps in abiding by the speech time limit

  • Not going off the tangent

  • Improve writing skills

  • Better preparation; etc.

If these are enough to convince you to sit down and write your next keynote speech, you are ready for what comes next.

Here is a 6-step process that I use to write my keynote speeches. This is a process that I have developed for myself while learning and practicing public speaking for 10+ years. You might have an entirely different way of doing the same thing. So, take what you like, and leave what doesn’t click!

Step 1: Research your audience

Who is it that you are speaking to? Are they college going youngsters, or are they 60-year-old retired ex-employees? Having an absolute clarity on the audience give you a clear idea of what kind of content you need to deliver. Every powerful speech is made with the audience in mind.

Audience awareness assists you in:

  • Understanding their needs

  • Telling relatable stories

  • Compiling relevant examples

  • Adding the right value

Some questions that you can ask to understand your audience better:

  • What is the age group of my audience?

  • What profession do they belong to?

  • What culture/ethnicity do they come from?

  • What is common among them?

Step 2: Purpose and Message

Every speech in the world falls into one of the four categories:

  1. To Inform

  2. To Persuade

  3. To Inspire

  4. To Entertain

Once you know what kind of audience you are speaking to, the next step is to ask yourself, “What do I want to do with them? Inform, Persuade, Inspire or Entertain?”

Let’s say, you wish to inspire the audience. What message do you plan to convey? I like to write down my primary message in 10-12 words clearly before I even write the speech.

Many speakers write the speech first and then derive the message, but that means leaving the message to chance. It is like leaving from your home without knowing where you wish to reach. A more intentional approach to do this is by knowing the destination, and then planning the journey.

Can you think of a 10-12 words message for your keynote speech?

Step 3: Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful way to connect with your audience and keep them engaged. For millions of years, human beings evolved in tribes of hunter-gatherers. These tribes used to sit down around fire every night and shared stories with each other. In a world without Netflix and YouTube, stories were their primary source of education and entertainment.

We are the 21st century human beings with the subconscious mind of a hunter-gatherer. That’s why we respond so positively to stories.

Once you have the message ready, find out what stories can support your message. Remember, a message is either derived or implied.

Three kinds of stories that you can tell:

  • Personal Experiences

  • Stories of other people

  • Brand stories

Step 4: Go impromptu

First 3 steps give you a fair idea about the content you will deliver. Now is the time to shape that content into a speech. Remember, you haven’t started writing yet.

Many of us find it difficult to start writing from scratch on an empty page. So, here is the trick to it - Take your phone, hit the record button and start speaking impromptu with all the ideas you have in your head till now. Many times, new ideas hit our head when we are speaking impromptu.

There you have it, the first draft of your speech as an audio recording. Let’s put this on paper, or use an audio-to-text application to do it. Doing this will save you self-judgement and time while writing the speech.

Step 5: Speech Organization

Your audience is most likely to remember the first and the last part of your speech i.e., opening and conclusion. It is very important to have a powerful opening and an equally powerful ending to the speech. Can you now think of a strong opening and ending?

Some good ways to open a speech are:

  • A question (E.g. How many of you think that Public Speaking is a very important skill for 21st century?)

  • A quote (E.g. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step)

  • A statistic (E.g. 85% people in the world have stage fright)

  • Use the word ‘Imagine’ (E.g. Imagine if you could get on stage and speak to anyone, anywhere, anytime)

  • Controversial statements (E.g. Hard work is not the key to success)

With an interesting opening and ending to your speech, the second draft of your speech is now ready!

Step 6: Review and edit

How you say something is always more important than what you say. Therefore, it is not the story that catches their attention, it is how it is being told.

Some ways to spice up your speeches are:

  • Metaphors

  • Analogies

  • Rhetoric

  • Triads

  • Alliteration

  • Simile; etc.

The truth is - a speaker will hardly use the above-mentioned rhetorical devices if he/she has not taken the time to sit down and write the speech word by word. These things come only with utmost preparation and involvement while preparing a speech.

Writing speeches can be challenging, yet fun if you know your process right. Remember, it is not important to deliver the speech word by word. Writing speeches is only to get you clarity of content so that you don’t deviate from the actual speech content while delivering it.

If this article helped you and taught you something new, you’ll also enjoy reading my article - 5 Public Speaking Tips to ace your next Presentation

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