As the founder of a speechwriting firm, Inkwell Strategies, I’ve gotten used to drawing a certain amount of interest from new friends and acquaintances when asked what I do for a living. After working in this somewhat niche profession for a number of years, I have come to expect questions about what the job entails, and even more frequently, inquiries about how to write a strong speech.
There are a lot of different ways to answer that question, but after crafting remarks for leaders in government, nonprofits and the private sector, I’ve learned that there are essentially five rules that all writers should follow in order to write a winning speech:
1. Read your speech out loud
Unlike almost all other forms of writing, speechwriting is designed for listeners. When reviewing your text, read it to yourself and pay attention to how the words sound and feel. Do they flow off the tongue, or are they clunky and awkward? If your phrases make you stumble, they are guaranteed to make your boss stumble as well. Just remember that good writing is not necessarily good speechwriting.
2. Simple phrases are your friend