Speaking and Speech Writing

Why You Should not Write a Speech Like an Essay

I guess we all are somewhat aware of a certain difference between writing and speaking – or, to be more precise, between the written and the spoken word. Speechwriters need to give that fact special attention, because there is also a difference between writing and speaking, and writing for the purpose of a speach.

Difference between writing and speaking

05-Bot-teil.01010249If you are a writer, you probably know how to string your letters, words, and sentences together for the desired effect. Well, I might have just used the expression “string together”, as if there was not much to it. On the contrary though: It is not always easy to get it right, each nuance of the text to come out just so. Writing is a craft.

Now, if that text you are writing is supposed to be used as the manuscript for a speech, that can be a quite a different ballgame: After all, giving a speech is not like simply reading an article or a story out loud: Syntax and style can be much different.

Do you talk the way you write? No, very probably you don’t. And unless you are writing the dialog of a novel or play, you probably don’t write the way you talk, either. In fact, you might have even been trained not to do so.

(And yes, a blog post like this can turn out to be a bit of a grey zone – there is something like writing in a conversational style, after all.)

Anyway, if you are writing a speech and are not used to it, you might have to reconsider your approach.

A speech is a performance

Giving an engaging speech is much more than just reading your manuscript aloud. A good speaker does not simply read to their audience, but talk to it, and in certain ways the speaker also interacts with the listeners. This is a question of body language, eye contact, intonation, tempo…

It is also a question of the right written material they have at their disposal. A good speech writer has the audience in mind, but also the person who will be giving the speech.

I have come across a great article in the Harvard Business Review with some pointers regarding how to make your written words sparkle in a speech! The first pointer happens to be right in the title, and it is a good thing to keep in mind for every speaker as well as speechwriter: “A speech is not an essay.” Actually, I think it sums it up rather nicely!

Do you need support with your speech writing? No problem, simply send me a message!





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