How to write—and deliver—better speeches

Soaring oratory begins with storytelling and setting limits, and it culminates with preparation and engagement techniques.

I love TED Talks, but they’ve created a problem in our society.

Everyone now expects all public speakers to be charming, profound, funny and breathtakingly articulate. You don’t have to be any of these things to deliver a great speech, but you do have to prepare.

Let’s begin with 10 ways to write a better speech:

1. Mind your time limit and word count. The average person speaks at somewhere between 125 and 150 words per minute. It’s almost always better to speak more slowly than too quickly. Thus, if you’re speaking for 20 minutes, shoot for a total word count between 2,500 and 3,000.

2. Avoid word-for-word speeches. Your delivery will be more natural if you speak from an outline rather than a script. You can memorize an introduction to get yourself going, but only use notes for the rest. Your speech might not be perfect, but genuine engagement with the audience will make up for lapses.

3. Divide it into five parts. Every speech should have an introduction, point 1, point 2, point 3 and a conclusion. Tell people what you’re going to tell them, tell them what you want to say and then wrap up by telling them what you just said. I’d divide a 20-minute speech as follows:

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