Writing a speech

Standard English

Standard English is the variety of English that suits, and is the accepted norm, for certain situations where clear meaning is very important - and especially where the audience is not personally known.

In formal speaking and listening situations you will almost naturally tend to use Standard English without thinking, for example, when giving a speech in a formal situation to a group of people you do not know.

In Standard English, you will not use slang words and will even avoid some colloquialisms, for example, you might avoid saying 'cool' and may say 'fantastic' instead.

Speeches

The keys to presenting an effective speech are preparation and practice - and a way to keep your nerves in check. World leaders don't just stand up and make up a speech on the spot - they carefully prepare and practice beforehand.

An effective speech needs to:

  • Use English skillfully - as you will have had time to prepare your speech in advance, you can show off your English language skills and vocabulary.
  • Be memorable - former prime minister Tony Blair was famous for making a speech that included the phrase 'Education, education, education'. This use of repetition helped his audience to identify and remember his key idea. Think about the type of language techniques you can add to your own speeches that will help make your ideas memorable.
  • Make people think - you may have heard of Martin Luther King who famously repeated the phrase 'I have a dream…' when he campaigned for equal rights for black Americans. This was a speech designed to inspire and emotionally 'connect' with his audience - to make them think.

Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech hit all three of these points, and was instrumental in changing the behaviours and attitudes of the time.

Martin Luther King, Jr delivering his 'I Have a Dream' speech.

Excerpt

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

Martin Luther King