Have you ever wanted to convince your classmates of something? You can become more convincing by learning how to write a good speech. Writing an effective speech is similar to writing an argumentative essay because they both have the same purpose: to persuade. An effective speech will be well-organized and rhetorically sophisticated, containing the same elements as an essay but designed to be delivered aloud. These rhetorical elements include a thesis statement, reasoning, elaboration with vivid imagery and a conclusion.
Writing a Thesis Statement for a Speech
The thesis statement for a speech, also known as the claim or main idea, encapsulates the subject of your speech. If you are writing a student election speech, your thesis statement can be very simple. The main purpose of your student election speech is to persuade your classmates to vote for you. Your thesis statement should also briefly cover reasoning. In other words, simply telling your peers they should vote for you is not an effective use of your thesis statement.
Reasoning and Elaboration for Student Speeches
All good speeches are made of a strong claim or thesis backed up by research. Sounding knowledgeable by using quotes and citations from known sources will go a long way to capturing your audience’s trust.
Incorporating reasoning and elaboration may sound hard if you’re composing a student election speech. But don’t worry. Your situation is no different than your friend’s in debate club. To come up with reasons why your classmates should vote for you, research the requirements of the office you're running for. What makes you more qualified to hold that office than your peers? Determine the main issues your peers care about. Ask around to see what, if anything, your competition plans to do about those issues. Use what you have discovered to elaborate on the reasons why you're the most qualified candidate for the job.
Honing Your Residual Message
The residual message is often very similar to the thesis statement for a speech. In fact, the concept echoes how you have been taught to restate your thesis in the conclusion of an essay. To sharpen your residual message, consider what you would like your listeners to take away from your speech. Think about it this way: The final message will be the words caught in your listeners’ heads as they leave, the words they will talk about later.
In an election speech, the residual message might be your campaign slogan: “Vote for Pedro!” It could also be a question you want your audience to contemplate as they leave. Whatever it is, your residual message needs to be short and to the point. It’s your audience’s cue to start clapping.
- Good speeches aren't necessarily about the most titillating topics. Instead, good speeches incorporate carefully researched detail to support and substantiate the speaker's central thesis.
- Expository speeches are the most common speeches given in high school, although many forensics clubs also emphasize debate style and more creative forms of speech. While each speech type has its nuances, the basic rules of giving a good speech apply to all forms.
Rebecca Renner is a teacher and freelance writer from Daytona Beach, Florida. Her byline has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Magazine, Glamour and elsewhere.