What makes a Good Speech?

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March 5, 2013 by dontbringlulubook



Some people are born to be public speakers. They thrive on working the crowd, eliciting the correct response and in general, enjoy being the centre of attention. For others, having to make a speech can send them into a blind panic. They experience the uncontrollable feeling of sweating profusely; shaking limbs and have an inner battle to control the wobble in their voice that threatens to take over.

So what constitutes a good speech and why is it that for some people it is akin to reading passages of a book out loud whereas to others it holds nothing but fear and an immense sense of relief when it is all over?

Certain people are born to be public speakers. Others, like Ron Onions, the TV reporter and news organiser, co-author of the book “Don’t Bring Lulu”knew the importance of when to speak and when to let the visual imagery speak for itself such as when in 1966 he covered the Aberfan disaster, letting the pictures and sound – minus commentary – speak for itself.

The most recent topical speeches are those that took place at the Oscars , with the top five speeches considered to be delivered by Ben Affleck for Best Picture, Quentin Tarantino for Best Original Screenplay, Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor, Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress and Adele for Best Original Song.

The reason for these being considered the best speeches?  They not only had the audience reaching for the tissues on occasion, they also had the audience laughing, be it due to the jokes they cracked or Jennifer Lawrence’s unfortunate accident when she tripped over her dress as she made her grand entrance to the stage.

To give a good speech, the orator needs to not only know their speech well but needs to also know their audience – by identifying with the people they are giving the speech to, then half the battle of ensuring the speech is a success is already won. The more comfortable the speech-giver themselves is, the less alienated the audience feel. How often – be it a by professional or a work colleague – have you watched and listened to a speech, inwardly cringing when you know they are not confident in either their material or their delivery?

Many will remember the video of Tom Fletcher from McFlys’s weddings speech where he sang his speech to the backing music of some of the band’s biggest hits. Freely admitting he hates public speaking, he turned the talent he has of writing songs to his own advantage and wrote a lyrical version to overcome his nerves.

So perhaps the trick to giving a good speech is all about finding the way that works for you – and if that is non-conventional, then your audience may enjoy it even more.


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