A PR speech may have different motives – it could be a Chairman’s speech at an AGM, it may announce a product launch, company restructuring, senior appointments, opening of new offices, expansion plans and community events or exhibitions the company sponsors or participates in.
A speech must be written – easy to present and easy to listen to. It is a monologue that requires the speaker to not only convey the topic in a credible fashion, but also needs to be delivered in an interesting, sometimes entertaining manner – to capture and retain attention. Most importantly, a speech must be internalised and remembered by the audience. Speeches to specific groups need extra attention.
Here are some points to consider:
- Determine your objective – Before you start writing, answer the question – why are you giving the speech? Focus on the objective of the speech. Cover only one or two main points in the speech. More than that can be confusing to the audience.
- Who is the audience – Find out everything about the audience. To determine your audience you should include intended and potential listeners.
For example, a speech that the Chairman delivers on the company’s financial performance during an AGM will address the shareholders, financial analysts and the financial community. Another factor to consider is – will the speech be given live or face-to-face with the audience, or will it be broadcast on TV or radio, or presented through a webcast or podcast.
- Research content – Do your research and devour all kinds of content. Read business newspapers, e-papers, magazines, watch business programmes. By watching CEOs on TV, listening to radio interviews, watching movies and reading, a speechwriter can develop a storehouse of phrases, metaphors and references. Good speechwriters are always on the lookout for good material.
- Create headlines that impact – The headline is the most important part of any piece of writing – whether it is an article, a press release, newsletter, sales copy, blog, web page, email or business report. Without a good headline the rest of the content will not be read. A catchy headline grabs the audience’s attention. It also helps to have a well-developed rhythm in the speech.
- 5Ws – A press release takes care of the five Ws of Who, What, When, Why and Where – concerning the subject of the release in the first paragraph. A PR speech should do the same. The most important facts should be covered first while the least important, toward the end of the speech. Another way to look at a PR speech is that the first paragraph tells the audience what you’re going say in summary form, the middle – goes into the details while the end concludes everything and includes a call to action.
- Entertaining angle – Add an entertaining angle, if it suits the mood of the speech – it can ensure that the audience listens attentively. When humor works, it really sets the mood for the speech, engages the audiences and gets their attention. When it doesn’t, the speech can fall flat! Jokes can backfire, so, while working on the speech, bounce them off your colleagues and get reactions.
- Plan the impact – The most important and lasting legacy of a good speech is – how does the audience feel after it’s over. In that spirit, a good speechwriter considers what emotion the speech should evoke, right at the beginning. If you get into the minds of the audience first, it will help balance fact-laden material with the necessary emotion.
Always have a fix on what you want the audience to do when you end the speech. Offer a strong call to action in the conclusion. Ensure your audience has clear takeaways from the speech.
Remember Martin Luther King had a dream, one intended for the audience of his times… and, we still feel the impact of his famous speech!