Write to Lead: The Art of Writing for Speech Delivery

Talk of some of the world’s renowned leaders – in the corporate world, religious fraternities and Presidency. One thing is always clear. Oratory skills are an ingredient they all harbor in abundance to influence and earn respect in return. Someone like Martin Luther King Jr. is hugely referenced whenever speechmaking is a subject of discussion, so is Former U.S President Barack Obama among others. And it certainly goes without saying that from the days of Plato and Aristotle whose speaking skills swayed many in Ancient Greece, written and spoken has increasingly become a powerful tool of leadership. After all, what’s the need of being in a position of leadership yet you cannot mutter the courage to address an audience?

Writing to Lead

Well, there are speechwriters and speechmakers. However, it is noteworthy that some of the great speakers in the history of mankind are equally prolific writers. Reading from manuscripts is old fashioned but at least you have to start by having everything on paper. In most cases, if a leader cannot be able to master every word on paper and deliver it to a hugely enthusiastic audience without distortion or sophistication, then at least he or she should be able to speak articulately and powerfully. The bottom line: writing is the mainstay of oratory.

Learning the Art of Writing for Speech Delivery

Today, writing and speaking skills is a course taught in higher learning institutions around the world. They are skills that if properly instilled in learners, go a long way in shaping one’s leadership skills. From charisma, eloquence, style to intelligence, a lot of attributes are associated with those who can speak and wring tears from even the stone-faced. You’ve got to appeal and arouse deeply seated emotions to qualify as a great speaker or writer. But here is the catch. Do you have what it takes to write the best speeches? Behind every exceptional speaker, there is someone who puts thoughts, ideas, opinions, and visions into words.

More than two thousand years ago, Aristotle wrote down the secret to being a persuasive speaker in his On Rhetoric, the secret which forms the basis for nearly every public speaking book written since then. This secret consists of three pillars of writing: ethos, logos, and pathos.

  • The ethos of speechwriting and speaking

Any writer of speech should be able to factor in these three aspects of speech writing and delivery. Ethos is basically about codes of behavior or conduct which results in the credibility of speechwriting and speaker. In speech writing, it is important to steer clear of writing or saying things that are offensive. Issues of honesty and respect play significant here.

There are several questions that describe your credibility:

  • Does the audience respect you?
  • Does the audience believe you are of good character?
  • Does the audience believe you are generally trustworthy?
  • Does the audience believe you are an authority on this speech topic?

Your writing must persuade the audience that a speaker is a trustworthy person.

  • Logos in write-ups and delivery

When it comes to logos, there has to be logic in what you put down on paper. Listeners are very skeptical and if things do not add up, it will hard to persuade them to take new positions or act in some way. From the introduction to conclusion, logical flow words should make amends with your intentions. Manuscripts in which this is taken into account are hugely persuasive. Nonetheless, aim at being articulate with words.

Here are the questions that may help you to ensure the logos of the speech:

  • Does your message make sense?
  • Is your message based on facts, statistics, and evidence?
  • Will your call-to-action lead to the desired outcome that you promise?
  • Pathos: Empathy and emotions

Then there is pathos, which is basically about working in the hearts and minds of listeners. People harbor emotions and when speeches are properly written and delivered in a way that is massively appealing to their feelings, the goal is of influencing writers is easily achieved.

Here are the questions you shall ask yourself to understand the pathos part of the speech.

  • Do your words evoke feelings of … love? … sympathy? … fear?
  • Do your visuals evoke feelings of compassion? … envy?
  • Does your characterization of the competition evoke feelings of hate? contempt?
  • Creativity and originality are important

Creativity is the juice in moving articles and powerful speeches. Be witty and imaginative. Play around with words. You don’t have to stick to every word in original manuscripts but at least lace it with some wits and charisma. But you shall also make sure that your puns, allegories, and metaphors are understandable to the target audience. Make a small research before you get down to writing: write down the specific features of your future readers and listeners. An effective technique is to imagine the whole audience as a single person to be able to stick to the specific needs.

A true leader always knows who he is leading and where he (or she) wants to get the followers.

  • Mind your grammar

You can take be sure that poor grammar, incoherence, misspellings and other related issues will ruin a good copy or the message in spoken word. Always be on the lookout for these. There is no need to emphasize the importance of proper proofreading. You shall probably ask for professional help if you are not sure in your copy.

In conclusion, writing and speaking are complementary. You should focus on originality at all times. Mimicking a model speaker or renowned orator is not the best thing to do. Focus on being unique.

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