Speech Writing (I

Writing a speech: • A written statement of purpose, • A list of what you want the speech to
accomplish, • A list of your main points and supporting points, and • A thesis, or core statement, for
the speech (Dowis 41)
Outline of a speech: • Do a thorough job of researching the subject. • Prepare a written statement of
the specific purpose of the speech. • Write down exactly what you want the audience to think or feel or
do as a result of the speech. • Based on your research, list all the points you might want to make. •
Pare the list down to three, four, or possibly five truly important points, discarding the remaining ones
or converting them into supporting points. • Identify the thesis, or unifying theme, that emerges from
the paring-down process. • Arrange the points and supporting points in the proper order. (46)
Organization of a speech: Tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em. Then tell ’em. Then tell ’em what you’ve
just told ’em. (52) Types of openings: •Novelty openings •Dramatic openings •Question openings
•Humorous openings •Reference openings (63)
Practical considerations: • Establish a common ground between speaker and audience • Set the tone
for the speech •Reinforce or establish the speaker’s qualifications •Arouse interest in the subject •Take
advantage of the speaker’s ‘‘grace period’’ •Browse smoothly into the subject (75)
Matters of style • Be yourself • Talk with the audience, not to them, not at them • Don’t hesitate to use
personal references when they seem appropriate for the subject and the audience • Use strong, active
verbs and vivid nouns • Prefer the active voice to the passive • Use specific, concrete language rather
than generalities • Use jargon sparingly, if at all • Be aware that words have meanings, or
connotations, that sometimes go beyond their dictionary definitions • Set the right tone. • Get to the
point • Whatever you say, say it right
Dwight D. Eisenhower (January 17, 1961)
Good evening, my fellow Americans: First, I should like to express my gratitude to the radio and television networks for the
opportunities they have given me over the years to bring reports and messages to our nation. My special thanks go to them for
the opportunity of addressing you this evening. Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay
down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my
This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my
countrymen. Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming
years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.
Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of
which will better shape the future of the nation. . . .
So, in this, my last good night to you as your President, I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public
service in war and in peace. I trust that, in that service, you find some things worthy. As for the rest of it, I know you will find
ways to improve performance in the future.
You and I, my fellow citizens, need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice.
May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the nation’s great
To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America’s prayerful and continuing aspiration:
We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied
opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings, those who
have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibility; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others, will learn charity,
and that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth; and that in the goodness of
time, all peoples will come to live together
in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.
Now, on Friday noon, I am to become a private citizen. I am proud to do so. I look forward to it. Thank you and good night.
John F. Kennedy (January 20, 1961)
We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom, symbolizing an end as well as a beginning, signifying
renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly
a century and three-quarters ago.
The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms
of human life. And yet the same revolutionary belief for which our forebears fought is still at issue around the globe, the belief
that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God. We dare not forget today that we are
the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been
passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of
our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of these human rights to which this nation has always
been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support
any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge and more. To those old allies
whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a
host of co-operative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do, for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split
To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not
have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view.


formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms. nor in the life of this Administration. ask what you can do for your country. though embattled we are. both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom. both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons. suitable? Do they add clarity and enlightenment? □ Is your humor suitable for the audience and the occasion? Is there anything that might offend? □ Does the overall content support and advance the stated purpose of the speech? □ Does the thesis come through clearly? □ Does the speech meet the expectations of the sponsoring organization? Editing for organization □ Is the speech organized logically. and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run. in the past. East and West. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe. ‘‘rejoicing in hope. remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness. that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort? In the long history of the world. concrete language would communicate better? □ Does the speech rely too heavily on cliche´s and jargon? □ Have you used contractions and personal pronouns freely? □ Does the language create the impression you want to convey? Editing for grammar and usage 2 . we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace. not as a call to battle. but a new world of law. let both sides join in creating a new endeavor. Let us never negotiate out of fear. whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world. names. Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance. and sincerity is always subject to proof. for the first time. to strengthen its shields of the new and the weak. it cannot save the few who are rich. asking His blessing and His help. All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside. my fellow Americans. for whatever period is required. and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations. [and] let the oppressed go free.’’ a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny. etc. Together let us explore the stars. but what together we can do for the freedom of man.But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor. And so. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us. not because we seek their votes. Finally. eradicate disease. To that world assembly of sovereign states. with history the final judge of our deeds. but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own. nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet.’’ And if a beachhead of co-operation may push back the jungle of suspicion. ask not what America will do for you. year in and year out. Now the trumpet summons us again not as a call to bear arms. my fellow citizens. the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. . In your hands. before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction. ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward. Finally. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. Editing for content □ Is the speech accurate in all respects—facts. ask not what your country can do for you. disease and war itself. To those peoples in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery. where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved. our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace. but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle. lifeless ‘‘concept’’ words? □ Does the speech contain many generalities where specific. yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war. with points and subpoints? □ Have you used ‘‘thought modules’’ to build the speech? □ Is the speech a unified presentation rather than just a collection of ideas and information? □ Are transitions strategically placed to help move the speech along from one point to another? Editing for style □ Does the speech contain unintentional alliterations or word combinations that might be awkward for the speaker? □ Are any of the sentences too long or too complex? □ Do most sentences follow the normal (subject-verb-object) word order? □ Are there sentences with a succession of prepositional phrases? Editing for language □ Does the speech make frequent use of short. though arms we need. not because the Communists may be doing it. . And let every other power know that this hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.? □ Are your quotations. We dare not tempt them with weakness. more than mine. I welcome it. only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. will rest the final success or failure of our course. and to remember that. conquer the deserts. I do not shrink from this responsibility. metaphors. analogies. but let us never fear to negotiate.. But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days. Let both sides. let us go forth to lead the land we love. patient in tribulation. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. in a new alliance for progress. North and South. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce. My fellow citizens of the world. Since this country was founded. Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah to ‘‘undo the heavy burdens . ‘‘gutsy’’ words— vivid nouns and strong verbs—as opposed to long. the faith. we offer a special pledge: to convert our good words into good deeds. we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves. to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. So let us begin anew. The energy. we renew our pledge of support: to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective. to those nations who would make themselves our adversary. and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. not a new balance of power. But let us begin. the United Nations. poverty. each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. but because it is right. figures. etc. To our sister republics south of our border.

□ Have you followed the generally accepted norms or grammar without being overly pedantic and without sacrificing colorful expressions or colloquialisms that may be appropriate? □ Does the speech make excessive use of the passive voice? □ Are all words used correctly? (255) References Richard Dowis. 2000. 41 3 . The Lost Art of Great Speech. AMACOM.