From time to time I take questions people submit to me via my free Speechwriting 101 series and answer them here. They are not formal blog articles (nor edited as such), but perhaps may address a similar question you may have:
Today’s question is from Victoria:
Brent, how do you write inspiring speeches and motivate people?
Hi Victoria, your question certainly is at the heart of what writing speeches is all about.
But I want to share with you something I learned about speechwriting (and giving speeches) a long time ago.
If you want to inspire and motivate, you absolutely must feel that way about the material you’re presenting.
That is at the base of everything. Not passionate about the subject material? The audience will be able to tell (they may not be able to describe why, but they’ll be able to tell). Not convinced of your own argument? They’ll catch on.
One other thing I like to do is to write with one person in mind. I often use my father.
My dad is an optimistic guy, but somewhat skeptical. If I’m to move him, I have to do a great job. I try to have his reaction in mind when I’m writing.
This, of course, can get complicated fast. If we’re writing for a specific audience with specific needs, we have to keep that audience and those needs in mind (and there’s a way to research those needs…we cover it in the On-Demand Course). Using my dad obviously doesn’t work for all situations.
With respect to motivating people to action, guess what most speakers forget to do in a speech?
They forget to ask the audience to do something!
In any speech, the conclusion should get the audience to take some sort of action with respect to the point being made (think “vote for me” or “sign the petition” or “speak to five people immediately after this speech about….”). It’s so simple, but most forget to do it.
Most of all, inspiring people and getting them to do something is about getting all those OTHER elements in a speech just right. The style is important, the substance is important, the structure….definitely important. Stories? Even more.
That’s the thing about speechwriting. It’s like a car that requires a number of parts working in synch to move forward.
I hope this helped a bit.
Have a great day.