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How to Write an Engaging Speech?

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How to Write an Engaging Speech?

Let’s take a little stroll down the memory lane to junior school. Imagine this, it is midnight before a school day, and you just remembered that you had to write a speech for recess tomorrow. You tell your mom, and suddenly the entire house is in a frenzy. Reluctantly, your dad agrees to write you the speech; your mom helps him, you practice it for an hour and go to sleep peacefully, knowing that you won’t make a fool of yourself in the morning. The silly openings and immature speech formats may have worked at the assembly in junior school. However, adult life is a lot more difficult. Speech writing for a GCSE exam is no joke at all. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about the structure of a speech, speech layout and how to write a speech with good examples.

Now, imagine another scenario, it’s your English GCSE exam, and you’ve been asked to write a speech. You might never have done that before. So, how to write a speech? We are here to tell you that. Writing a speech can be an intimidating task, especially with the added stress of GCSE English exam anxiety. But, if you equip yourself with the proper techniques, you can ace your GCSE English exam in no time.

Simply put, a speech is merely an official verbal presentation that is used to achieve a specific goal. The aim of making a speech or even writing one is to convince the audience about your idea or pay attention to the subject under discussion. In a GCSE English exam setup, there are two probable questions the examiner might ask. Simply, he might ask you to write a speech on a particular topic. Or you could be asked to imagine yourself as someone else i.e., a renowned personality, and give a speech to a different audience. In the following paragraphs, we compile some tips that will help you score top-notch marks in your GCSE English exam.

speech writing

1. Introduce yourself

Naturally, as per the unsaid rules of first-time human interaction, the first thing you have to do in any speech you write is introducing yourself. Now you may get confused here over the difference between IRL and written speech. If you have seen footage of historic speeches, the speaker might skip over the formality of introducing themselves, or they might be introduced by someone before they take the stage. That is because the limitations of stage time often do not allow one to revel in introductory details. For your GCSE speech, it is necessary to introduce yourself first. Because the introductory part of your speech serves as an opportunity to show your examiners that you can adapt to introduce yourself to any audience. Following are the two examples of different audiences and how you could introduce yourself appropriately:

  • You’re giving a speech to your teachers

When you are addressing your teachers, your introduction needs to be more formal and polite. For example, you can start with a greeting and your name such as; “Hello, and thank you for taking the time to listen. My name is Lawrence Smart, and I’m here today to talk to you about…” Notice how the speechwriter in this example uses their full name and is very polite to his audience.

  • When you are making a speech to your classmates

When you are talking to your peers from your class, your language can be more casual and fun. However, you still need to avoid using curse words to colloquial slang. Since, in most cases, your classmates already know who you are, so you could start your speech by saying, “Hi everyone. Most of you know me already know me – my name’s Shanice. I’m the one who always sits at the back of the class.” While talking to your classmates, you have to be far less formal, which is perfect for your audience. When you are speaking to your equals, you can connect with them far more effectively by using the language they would usually use with each other.

All the while, you must remember that your introduction is an opportunity to impress your examiners right away. Therefore, you need to be creative and introduce yourself to your audience with the tone you mean to go on with.

2. Make a great opening statement

After the introduction, the audience knows who you are. Your second step is your opening statement, in which you grab the audience’s attention. You should always begin writing your speech in a catchy way. You want to craft an introduction that will captivate your target audience. A good opening statement is fairly brief, but it uses innovative language techniques that make an immediate impact on the audience.

The language techniques given below are sure to grab the audience’s attention:

  • A rhetorical question

You may ask why to use rhetorical questions at all. Well, rhetorical questions are questions that you do not expect your audience to answer. The most essential attribute of rhetorical questions is that they make the audience think. Moreover, they feel included in the discussion, which heightens their interest in the topic under discussion. When you ask a question that your audience wants to know the answer to, they will pay attention. If you then answer your own question, your audience will be hooked to whatever you discuss next. For example:

“I’m here to talk to you about what ordinary people can do to fight against climate change. Why? Because, we’re running out of time to act.”

  • A surprising statement

Surprise is one of the powerful tools that enhance the flavour of any speech. It makes the audience sit up and pay attention. Think of the most surprising opinion or the fact you want to convey in your speech. Now, use it right at the beginning, and your audience will wake from their deep slumber and pay attention to you for sure.

  • A famous quote 

As you are preparing for your GCSE English exam, take a look at a compilation of universally acknowledged famous quotes. You can easily find these compilations on the internet. While taking a mere look at the quotes is important, you should not worry about cramming and revising famous quotes before your exam. Because your marks do not rely on the quote alone rather on your arguments, but, if you can remember one which is relevant to your speech topic, use it. It will demonstrate your creativity and flair. For example:

“As a wiser woman than me once wrote: ‘It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.'”

These different language techniques can effectively grab the examiner’s attention. Please remember that using these techniques effectively can transform your speech.

3. Structure your speech

In order to make your speech more comprehensible and hard-hitting, you should always structure it properly. The easiest way to structure your speech and make it easy for your audience to understand is to split it into three different sections, subsequently named as, Introduction, main body, and conclusion. Each section serves a different purpose.

In the Introduction, you aim to introduce yourself and the topic under discussion to your audience. Then, you want to grab their attention. The main body of your speech is where you make your arguments. Divide this main body into 2-3 points, and separate each point into different paragraphs. In the end, comes the conclusion. A good conclusion takes everything you said and sums it up.

4. Begin every paragraph with a topic sentence

Because you are dividing your speech format into three distinct sections, you need to determine this distinction of paragraphs right away. To do that, you have to ensure that you have a separate topic sentence determined for each paragraph.

For example: “Jellyfish are the second thing I want to put into Room 101, and for good reason.”

5. Use very good English

In case you are still confused about it, the GCSE English exam is to test your abilities in the language. Therefore, you must use error-free language. Good English is essential for your examiner to give you good marks. If you are not proficient in the English language, there are a couple of tricks you can use to avoid making mistakes.

Avoid long sentences. Write short sentences instead. By keeping things short, you limit the amount of complex punctuation you need to use. However, bear in mind that there is a difference between uncomplexed short sentences and baby sentences. Practice makes a man perfect. It is a simple tip, but it’s the best one anyone can give you. Trying anything for the first time takes your attention away from your grammar and spelling, and that can lead to mistakes. Practice makes perfect, and it also makes you more confident.

6. Express your opinion

The most common mistake students make when writing a speech is that they don’t express an opinion. Opinions are the elements that make a speech interesting. Whatever you are writing a speech about, express yourself. Don’t just write about your topic; write what you think about it. What if you don’t have a strong opinion on the subject? Imagine you do, and write from that perspective. The examiner won’t care about your opinion or whether they agree with it. What they will care about is that you are expressing an opinion in a persuasive, engaging way.

7. Write from the 1st person and engage your audience

While writing your speech, the first thing you have to ensure is that you should always write in the first-person narrative. Simply put, you should always use the pronoun “I” as you write. By doing this, your audience will recognize that what you’re saying is your opinion. Moreover, it will be easier for them to connect to your opinions. Furthermore, you should also address your audience directly as if you were talking to them. Use “we” and “you” in your writing. For example: “I’m sure you’d all agree that…”, or “As a community, we need to…”.

You should avoid using the second and third-person narrative as it creates a distance between you and the audience. Using the 3rd person makes each of your audience members sit up and listen. It makes them think about how your topic and argument apply to them.

8. Use personal details and anecdotes

It is the sign of every good speaker to make his speech palatable and relatable for the audience. If your audience relates to you, they are far more likely to agree with what you’re saying. The best way to make the content of your speech relatable for the audience is to add small personal details and anecdotes about yourself. However, you mustn’t let it turn into an anecdotal stand-up comedy set. You should stick to your argument, and the anecdotes should be incorporated to bring attention to the argument and not otherwise. For example: In a speech about bullying, you might say: “Like it is for so many young people, bullying is a subject that is close to my heart. When I was at primary school, I was bullied and I now know how harmful it can be.” For a speech about music, you could say: “Ever since the day I first heard Kanye West’s Runaway, I knew I’d be a lifelong fan.” If you were talking about sport, you might say: “I was never a good rugby player. But, football? My school’s muddy, overgrown football field is where I found my true calling.”

9. Use rhetorical questions

Use rhetorical questions throughout your speech, just like I suggested you should do in your opening. Remember: rhetorical questions grab your audience’s (and your examiner’s) attention. While rhetorical questions can aid your arguments, overdoing them kills the entire purpose of it. A good rule of thumb is to use 2-3 rhetorical questions throughout your speech, each in different paragraphs aiding the topic sentence. The best place to use the rhetorical questions is at the beginning of your paragraphs.

10. Use emotive language

Emotive language is one of the most basic, but most effective tools a speechwriter can use. It arouses the audience’s emotions and makes your points more relatable for them. Oversimplifying things can make the experience tedious or boring. Therefore, in your speech, things shouldn’t simply be described just as “good” or “bad”. They should be “fantastic” or “horrible”, “pure” or “corrupted”, “exciting” or “disappointing”. Notice how these example words express more than just “good” or “bad”. They also add other flavours to your description. Use emotive words sparingly throughout your speech to sound coherent and knowledgeable.

11. Use figurative language

As it is with emotive language, figurative language should not be overused lest it will lose all its essence. When used effectively, figurative language creates powerful images in your audience’s mind. There are many types of figurative language, but these are the main ones you should focus on using in your speech:

Simile – Describing something to be like something else. For instance, “She has eyes like a hawk,” “He’s thin as a twig,” or “They’re fighting like cats and dogs.”

Metaphor – Describing something by using a word that isn’t relevant. For example, “It’s raining men,” “I’m feeling blue,” or “The weather was bitterly cold”.

Imagery – Using words to make you imagine how they would affect your senses. For example, “A sweet apple”, “A sharp pin”, or “The lion roared”.

12. Use contrast

In the process of argumentation and speech writing, contrast is a powerful technique. The clash of opinions forefronts your main argument and enables the audience to pick a side. Moreover, it highlights your point because of the clash of imagery it creates in the audience’s mind. You can exploit this by using contrasting words and phrases in your sentences. For instance, “I love writing, but I hate writing essays”. You can also bring added flavour to your figurative language by using contrasting imagery. For example, you could describe one person as “fiery and passionate” and another as “cold-hearted”. This makes the audience able to connect with your argument personally.

13. Use repetition

Here, we will lead by example. Read this: “Repetition is for emphasis. Repetition is memorable. Repetition is one of many persuasive techniques which will help you get a good grade.” Starting consecutive sentences with the same word has proven to be a very effective technique. Not only it adds to the rhetorical style of the speech, but repetition can also be used for key phrases in your introduction and conclusion to bring your speech full circle. For instance, if you started your speech by saying “The pen is mightier than the sword”, repeat that phrase in conclusion to your speech. This way of repetition and calling back helps the audience connect the dots of your argument.

14. Use the list of three

While writing a speech, you must make your arguments and the necessary supporting arguments convincing. There is a little tip that brings your point across in no time. We don’t know exactly why, but the human brain easily remembers things in threes. Use this to your advantage. A very common technique is to combine repetition with the list of three. By repeating a word three times in consecutive sentences, you can make a very compelling point.

15. Focus on the topic

When writing a speech in your GCSE English exam, you should always stay focused on the topic you have been asked to write about. Never derail from the subject of the speech you are writing. This will make you lose marks. This is why you must plan your speech format before you begin writing it. Think through the structure you are going to use and stick to it. That way, you’ll stay on topic, and your argument will be focused.

Writing a good speech is fairly simple; all you need is practice, practice, and more before sitting for your GCSE English Exam. If you keep all the above-mentioned points in mind, there is nothing that will stop you from getting good marks.

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Austin has 10+ years of experience in teaching. He has researched on thousands of students-related topics, issues, and concerns. You will often find him writing about the common concerns of students, their nutrition, and what is beneficial for their academics and health both.