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Crafting an Inspiring Speech

Effective Speech Writing

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Utilizing Theme Reinforcers

Theme reinforcers are simply the points that a speechwriter uses throughout his or her speech to 'reinforce' the central idea they are trying to get across. In Winston Churchill's famous commencement address to Westminster College in 1946, we find him emphasizing over and over again the need for cooperation against tyranny and war. His speech covered serious problems with which the post-war world was faced, including what he termed as the 'iron curtain' that had descended across the European continent. Many say that this speech was the beginning of the 'cold war'. What we can learn from his address is the importance of continually reiterating one idea. The effect that this speech had on the world is almost incalculable.

On a more local note, I used the four requirements necessary to become a member of NHS as my four points. When I discussed scholarship, I returned to my idea of daily decisions and said that a student's attitude towards learning is increased positively with each personal decision to focus on the task at hand. If a student enters a class with the attitude that they want to learn what is being taught, then their efforts will shine forth in true learning. I continued in this vein for each of the other three requirements. Of course, this does not mean that throughout the speech the same words are repeated over and over. The hardest part of writing any speech is to approach the main theme from many different angles.

Wrapping it All Together

Once you've picked your theme and chosen the points you want to emphasize, putting the speech together is fairly simple. You can organize it first in outline form, remembering to return at the end of each point to the theme you are trying to get across. Numbering your points sometimes helps the audience remember where you are and how far you have left to travel before the climax of your speech. This climax is the most important part. It should be the last paragraph, and leave everyone with something to think about. One great way to bring your ideas home is to find a quote which aptly embodies your theme. As Jean Rostand said, "Certain brief sentences are peerless in their ability to give one the feeling that nothing remains to be said."

Quotes, Resources and an Unconventional Idea

Find great quotations and other speech writing resources. The tips found on many of these pages are awesome, especially the strategies for giving the speeches themselves. There are also many unconventional ideas that can be incorporated into speeches. A great example of this occurred during a graduation speech by a Valedictorian which incorporated music throughout. She picked three different songs to represent the students' elementary, middle, and high school years and played them softly while she went through memories for the class. Her theme was a celebration of life as it was, is, and will be. She ended with a song of hope and left students with the idea that there was a lot to look forward to in the future.

Speech writing is all about knowing your audience and addressing their concerns. Leave your audience with something about which to think. Include humor and inspirational quotes. But make sure that each of these are integrated into the whole. Study the great speeches of the past to find inspiration. The joy that you will feel when you have given a speech that has inspired people is amazing and worth the effort. Good luck!

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