Golden rules to speech writing

Another year. Another MIPIM. Another great speaker line-up of industry experts from all over the world, giving their views on the latest trends in the property industry. The one thing that all these experts had in common was their ability to deliver a speech that told a story and captured the imagination of an audience.

Redwood had a number of clients at last month’s global property conference giving speeches or speaking on panels, and as their strategic communications consultancy, we provided a host of speech content creation and delivery tactics to ensure our experts were able to speak effectively to their target audiences.

We’ve set out below our top tips for capitalising on the opportunity when giving a speech at an industry-level event such as MIPIM – whether you’re speaking to industry peers, investors, existing and potential partners, new business prospects or anyone in between.

1. Ask: Who’s your audience?

Before giving a speech, understanding your audience is critical.  This will ensure, before you set out in your speech preparation, you are fully aware of the detail required to engage effectively. Also, you’ll be aware of how much you must adapt your day-to-day language to make it relatable to an audience who doesn’t necessarily understand your world of work.

If the speech is aimed at a broad audience or consumers, we’d always advise stress testing messages with some friends at the pub, you might just realise how little they understand property jargon.

2. Do your research

Assessing what else is currently being said, and by whom, in the marketplace is essential to ensure your speech is relevant. Repeating what has already been said is a major faux pas – especially if new research has been released. If audience members walk away thinking they’ve heard all of your content before, you’ll lose credibility very quickly.

3. Let your mind wander

Don’t allow writer’s block to stem your creativity, get all of your ideas down on paper in front of you. Don’t worry about structure at this point, either, or try to force ‘smart’ connections between your different points that’ll give your speech fluidity – all of this could stop you from exploring those magic moments that will truly set your speech apart from the rest. Once you have all possible ideas down in front of you, you’re then free to start categorising those ideas and you’ll naturally find themes that bind them together. Don’t be afraid to simply put a line through an idea if you ultimately create three distinct themes and this idea doesn’t fit into any of them.

4. Stimulus for the eyes

PowerPoints must not be text heavy! Your audience will not take the information in. It’s also really boring, to be frank. Your audience will walk away with no other urge but to find the strongest coffee to wake them up. Think of more creative ways to present information on PowerPoint. If your speech is data-rich, how about an infographic? Before you panic, not all infographics need to be highly designed nor should you have to appoint a graphic designer. While it is of course preferable to invest in strong visuals, as it will increase the likelihood of audience members remembering your content, simple ‘up’ and ‘down’ arrows with increases and decreases in percentage points will be far better than writing the data on the slide in sentence form.

5. Your audience won’t ‘read’ your speech, they’ll ‘hear’ it

You are not writing a novel – it’s a speech. Nobody will be reading it, unless of course you’re planning on publishing a paper on your speech!

You should convey your messages in short, punchy and pithy soundbites instead of long, framed sentences.  Build your messages around the key themes, no more than three – people have short memories!  This will give your speech rhythm and ensure your points are memorable and make an impact. A great speech gives the audience a ‘golden nugget’ to take away with them – new information, a different point of view, or a feeling that they simply must come and talk to you after the speech.

Redwood works with its clients to create speeches that will not only make an impact on your audience’s businesses but, as a result, your business. We advise clients from a wide range of backgrounds on how to use speeches effectively, whether they wish to increase their share of voice in the marketplace as a thought leader or communicate their USPs to potential new business. If you’d like to discuss how we can help you to deliver a speech with confidence, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of the Redwood team.