How to design a public speech

Few steps to follow and some rules of thumb to remember. Different types of speeches/presentations may need different approaches. Here you will find a universal method, tips and tricks of designing a kick-ass speech.

The steps

1.       Get blank sheet of paper and a pen – write down few sentences about what you will/want talk about

·         Ask yourself why it is important to you and your audience

·         Think of the purpose and value you ultimately you’ll add through your speech

2.       Create the “cloud of ideas” – push your creative mind to the limits

·         Distill what you will talk about into 3 main points

·      Write down every inch of idea, association, anecdote, question and quote that floats around your main points

3.       Build a structure of your speech – your outline

·         Group content of “cloud of ideas” into subsections of your main points

·         Filter, regroup, clarify, subtract ideas to create a minimalistic and crystal clear structure

·         You should end up with well-structured, detailed and elegant outline of your speech

4.       Script of your speech – what you will actually say

·         Every idea in your outline now has to become a paragraph in your script

·         If something isn’t necessary to transport your main point or clarify them – hit delete on that

·         Remember that your scrip should have more of conversational style

5.       The WOW effect – if you’re going with multimedia

·         Start with simple pictorial drawings

·         Do not put more than 25 words on a slide or 3 images

·         Remember about minimalism and elegance of form

·         Use buzzwords more than sentences

6.       Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. And then rehearse some more.

The thumb-rules to consider

·         To be engaging, your speech have to add value. And you have to believe that it does

·         To clarify the message subtract rather than add. Treat addition as a last resort

·         Attention span is short. Put few one line jokes and/or anecdotes

·         Do not only inform – tell a story

·         Give credit to people behind ideas


To create a bang on, engaging and well executed 1 hour speech you need minimum of 3 weeks with the last week being used only for rehearsals. Building great structure takes a lot of time and effort, same goes with actual writing. You have to add another week if you have to research the topic at hand.

Some people go well without hard script (written word for word). Still, I would not recommend that to first time designers/speakers. Without experience no script adds to time of rehearsals.

Putting in little one line jokes or anecdotes is very important. Especially with long speeches where the attention of listeners will naturally drift to their mobile devices.

Sometimes it is a good idea to give away the outline of speech (maybe not very detailed one) or prepared notes for audience.

Public speaking in any form is one of the most underrated performing arts – and for the matter of fact I have no doubts that it is a form of art. To be able to inspire action, incept an idea, demystify bothering piece of reality, or provide entertainment is a great gift (or hard learned skill).

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Przemek Kucia