How to Write a Speech

Close-up of a businessman giving a speech
Close-up of a businessman giving a speech. ArtBox Images / Getty Images

Before you can write a speech, you have to know a little about speech construction and types. There are certain types of speeches, and each type contains certain characteristics.

Just like essays, all speeches have three main sections: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Unlike essays, speeches must be written to be heard, as opposed to read. You need to write a speech in a way that keeps the attention of an audience and helps paint a mental image.

This simply means that your speech should contain a little color, drama, or humor. It should have “flair.” The trick to giving a speech flair is using attention-grabbing anecdotes and examples.

Types of Speeches

Student presenting a paper in class.
Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images

Since there are different types of speeches, your attention-grabbing techniques should fit the speech type.

Informative speeches inform your audience about a topic, event, or area of knowledge.

  • Podcasting for Teens
  • Drinking Is for Dummies
  • The Underground Railroad

Instructional speeches provide information about how to do something.

  • How to Shape Perfect Eyebrows
  • Make a Great Bag Out of Old Clothing
  • How to Stand on Your Head
  • How to Avoid Plagiarism

Persuasive speeches attempt to convince or persuade the audience.

  • Study Abroad is Life-Enhancing
  • Abstinence Can Save Your Life
  • Benefits of Volunteering

Entertaining speeches entertain your audience.

  • Life Is Like a Dirty Dorm
  • Can Potato Peels Predict the Future?
  • Marshmallows Should Be a Food Group

Special Occasion speeches entertain or inform your audience.

  • Graduation speech
  • Wedding toast
  • Campaign speech

You can explore the different types of speeches and decide what speech type fits your assignment.

Speech Introduction

Image created by Grace Fleming for
Image created by Grace Fleming for

The introduction of the informative speech should contain an attention-grabber, followed by a statement about your topic. It should end with a strong transition into your body section.

As an example, we’ll look at a template for an informative speech called "African-American Heroines." The length of your speech will depend on the amount of time you have been allotted to speak.

The red section of the speech above provides the attention-grabber. It makes the audience member think about what life would be like without civil rights.

The last sentence states directly the purpose of the speech and leads into the speech body.

Body of the Speech

Image created by Grace Fleming for
Image created by Grace Fleming for

The body of your speech can be organized in a number of ways, depending on your topic. Suggested organization patterns are:

  • Chronological: provides the order of events in time.
  • Spatial: gives an overview of physical arrangement or design.
  • Topical: presents information one subject at a time.
  • Causal: shows cause and effect pattern.

The speech pattern above is topical. The body is divided into sections that address different people (different topics).

Speeches typically include three sections (topics) in the body. This speech would continue to contain a third section about Susie King Taylor.

Speech Conclusion

Image created by Grace Fleming for

The conclusion of your speech should restate the main points you covered in your speech. Then it should end with a bang!

In the sample above, the red section restates the overall message you wanted to convey--that the three women you've mentioned had strength and courage, despite the odds they faced.

The quote is an attention-grabber since it is written in colorful language. The blue section ties the entire speech together with a small twist.

Whatever type of speech you decide to write, you should include certain elements:

  • clever quotes
  • amusing stories with a purpose
  • meaningful transitions
  • a good ending

Now that you know how to construct your speech, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Know your audience. You want to write with passion and enthusiasm, but you also want your listeners to share that enthusiasm. When writing your attention grabbing statements, make sure you are writing what will get their attention, not just yours. 
  • Read famous speeches. Look at the way successful speeches are constructed and look for the things that stand out. Oftentimes, speechwriters use a lot of rhetorical devices to make certain points easy to remember and to emphasize them. 
  • Remember to begin and end your speech with something that will gain and hold the attention of your audience. If you spend too much time getting into your speech, people will zone out or start checking their phones. If you get them interested immediately, they will be more likely to stick with you until the end. 

Now you might want to read some advice about giving the speech!