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Not everyone’s comfortable with public speaking and if you aren’t, it makes the speech writing process all the more important. There are some people that can write down talking points and babble on for as long as they want, but that requires a special set of skills and unrivaled self-confidence.

In many ways, a well-written speech is always going to come off better than a thrown-together one, so in this post, we’re going to discuss some speech writing mistakes that you should avoid. One of the biggest parts of delivering a successful speech is knowing yourself and what could hinder your progress.

The more preparation you do during the writing phase, the less that can go wrong when you deliver the actual speech. Keep reading and you’ll have the best possible speech written and ready for reciting.

1. Not Having an Intro Hook

Whatever you’re giving your speech on, whether it’s a TED talk to a group of scientists or a valedictorian speech, you have to try and grab the audience right away. To ignore the presence of the audience would be to fail before you even get started, so work extra carefully on your introduction so that you hook them in and have them paying attention from the top.

Part of this will be familiarizing yourself with the technology and the venue so that you don’t take too long to get going, but the bigger part will be in the writing phase. Introduce yourself, crack a good joke, and tell the audience, as succinctly as possible, what you’ll be discussing during your speech.

Once you’ve drafted a version you’re happy with, read it again and again until you can nail it almost without looking at the page. If you commit blunders or stumble over your words at the start of the speech, the audience tends to check out right away and you’ll lose a lot of them no matter how good the speech is.

2. Relying Too Heavily On Slides and Tech

Presentations and speeches nowadays almost always involve some form of visual aid, whether it’s slides or video accompaniment. While these can be extremely helpful in capturing attention and hammering home certain points, they can also detract from what you’re saying if you rely too heavily on them. 

If you’re giving a speech on a specific subject, you should know it thoroughly enough that you don’t need to read off of slides. The information coming out of your mouth should be just as engaging. Use the slides as a visual aid that you can expound upon with your speech; this is how you’ll win the audience over.

3. Having a Lack of Flow

Speeches, like stories, should have a beginning, middle, and end. There should be a major endpoint that the entire speech is leading up to, so be careful not to write in anything that’ll disturb the overall flow. Write effective transitions to get from one topic to the next, making it easy for your audience to follow along with what you’re saying.

This can become quite difficult if you’re discussing a complex topic, as with business or academic speeches, so make sure to outline everything as best you can before you start writing. Having a flow chart of how you want the speech to touch on everything gives you something to refer to as you’re writing everything out.

4. Not Simplifying Complexities

Again, with complex topics, you’re going to have to explain things to your audience in a clear and easy-to-understand way. Do your best to simplify these complexities in the most direct and concise way possible. You can bet that the more verbose you are, the harder it’s going to be for any audience, whether they understand the topic or not, to follow what you’re telling them.

At the end of the day, you’re not going to be able to get to the bottom of everything in one speech, so treat the whole thing as an introduction to a topic. If your speech inspires the audience to do their own research on your topic, then you’ve done your job.

5. Making It Too Long

We’ve all been in the audience for a 2-hour lecture or speech that could’ve been condensed into 30 minutes. Whoever’s running the event that you’re speaking at should give you a time restriction that you need to stay under, so do your best to clock in a few minutes before the time is up.

Remember, you’re not writing a paper that’s meant to be lengthy and explain every intricacy of the topic; you’re writing a speech that you have to read and that an audience has to listen to. Cut as much fat as you can while still retaining the essence of the speech and you’ll have the audience in the palm of your hands. The shorter the better.

6. Write In Pauses

The opposite problem to writing a long speech is writing a good length speech and speed-talking through it. For those that aren’t great public speakers, it can be difficult to keep a handle on your nerves, so you might end up talking too fast. If this describes you, then write pauses into your speech to indicate where you need to slow down and give the audience a chance to digest what you’ve said.

They don’t have to be very long, but just little indicators of where to slow down, have a drink of water and begin the next part of the speech. 

7. Too Much (Or Too Little) Humor

Humor is a tricky thing to master in a speech and it really depends on the type of audience you’re speaking to. A speech given to a group of employees at your office may have little room for humor; but something more laid back, like a lecture on a topic that you’re an expert on, might be more free-flowing and open to more humorous material.

The last thing you want is to pack your speech with jokes that fall flat. Your best bet is to keep the speech as light as possible, inject a few things for the audience to chuckle at, but move past any jokes that you write unless the audience reacts well to them.

Speech Writing Mistakes Are Learning Tools

These are a few of the most common speech writing mistakes, but there are many more out there. The key is to keep track of the mistakes you make when delivering speeches and try to avoid making them again. You can’t master speech writing or giving unless you deliver speeches over and over, so it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them.

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