Courses in business studies often include sections dedicated to speeches, their writing and delivery. It is only natural – after all, whether you occupy a leadership or subordinate position, in business environment you are very likely to make reports, presentations, deliver sales pitches and so on. The ability to express your thoughts and ideas not just in writing but also orally is of paramount importance here.
Even if you used to be a part of a debating club or dabbled in speech writing back in school, this is not going to be of much help here, for business speeches have a lot of specific features that set them apart from other types of oral communication. They are less concerned with rhetoric devices and making picturesque comparisons and more with hard facts and your ability to use them to your advantage.
Quite often, you have to write an assignment of this type without having received sufficient instruction beforehand. Let’s rectify this situation – our best speechwriting specialists have prepared this guide so that you never again experience problems writing your business studies speeches.
A speech is, by definition, a relatively short piece of writing, as it is supposed to be delivered orally in front of an audience. One may think that writing it should not take long. In a sense, it is true – you will most likely spend more time preparing than writing; which is another reason to pay extra attention to this stage.
Here we list what you have to do in a specific order, but it does not mean that you finish with one thing and move on to the next. The nature of a speech is such that you have to treat each stage while referring to all the other steps: e.g., your choice of topic depends on the audience (who they are and what they know), speech length (you should not take a deep and complex topic if you have just 3 minutes to cover it), etc.
Sometimes the professor either defines your topic for you or severely limits your options. However, quite often you have enough freedom of choice to influence the direction your speech is going to take, at least to a degree. Some things you may base your topic on are:
Here are some examples:
The important thing to understand is that there is no such thing as a perfect topic. Find something that is good enough for your purposes and start working – this will bring better results than wasting time trying to find an ideal topic.
Speeches in business studies one writes in college are usually based on case studies. You are given a situation and are asked to prepare and deliver a speech addressing some issue expressed in the case. For example, you are a small business owner who recently joined the Chamber of Commerce of your town. As a new member, you are invited to deliver a short presentation of yourself and your business at the next meeting.
Analyze your audience and consider the following:
Who your audience is determines the language you have to use, terminology you can introduce into your speech without explanations, what arguments they are likely to treat favorably and so on.
Most likely, each member of your class (or most of them) will have to write and deliver one, and some time should remain for discussion as well. This means that you will probably be very limited in time – do not expect to have more than 5 minutes to deliver the speech, so plan accordingly. Your professor will tell you how much time you will have, but fitting your speech into this period is your job. Read a passage from a book aloud at your normal speech tempo and check how much you will be able to cover. An actual speech of the same length may take somewhat shorter or longer to deliver, but this value is a good reference point for your word count, so try to stick to it. You will have an opportunity to slightly shorten or lengthen your speech if necessary later on. Alternatively, use an online tool to convert words to minutes – but remember that different people talk at different speed, and such tools by definition are not very precise.
Speeches usually pursue one of the four purposes (or a combination thereof):
Decide which goal you will pursue beforehand, or you may end up writing a confusing and misleading speech.
Sometimes your work is already laid out in front of you. Sometimes you have to gather information first. Anyway, your format defines what you have to do, and the most important thing about it is the amount of time you have. Depending on the length of your essay, you should get more or fewer sources of information. Stick to high-value, reliable sources – you almost certainly won’t have enough word count to refer to everything you find, so make sure the sources you do mention can serve as hard evidence that does not need further backing up. You can find sources using academic databases and search engines like EBSCO, JSTOR or ProQuest.
Speeches are short and rely on your ability to remember them and reconstruct them from memory. Therefore, they are even more reliant on structure and planning than other academic assignments. You not only have to fit everything you want to say into a very strict word count, but also make its structure intuitive enough to rebuild it effortlessly on the go.
Prepare an outline. A typical structure of a speech is this:
Divide the speech into parts and jot down how much time you can spend on each of them. Write down what you will mention in each part and how you will connect them.
A speech is primarily an oral message, and oral speech is different from written text. Your speech should sound like an address to the audience, not as reading from a book. Therefore, write the way you normally talk:
In business studies, it is especially important to back your words up with facts and statistics and not with vague appeals to the audience. Make the audience understand that you know what you are talking about and are familiar with background information.
Human brain is hard-wired to pay attention to stories and process them better than abstract facts. Backing your points up with cases from your experience lends you credibility and makes it easier for the audience to follow you.
Post-writing work on a speech is different from most other academic assignments because speeches are not exactly writing tasks – they are evaluated based on how well you deliver them. Therefore, formal aspects like formatting, spelling, grammar and suchlike are of secondary importance (unless you have to submit your speech in written form as well).
Do you fit into the allotted time comfortably? Tweak the length of the speech. Either cut a few inconsequential phrases or add a little if there is enough space left. After you manage to finish talking on time, memorize the speech and see if you can repeat this feat without looking at the text.
Few things in this world are more pathetic and uninspiring than a person reading his/her speech aloud. Do not expect to be allowed to do it, and even if it is an option, do not do it anyway. When delivering a speech, you have to maintain eye contact with the audience, they should feel that you speak to them, not at them. Therefore, memorize your speech, but do not rely on your memory too much, even if the speech is just a few minutes long. You can stumble at the worst possible moment, and have to prepare for it.
Speaker notes are a collection of reminders you can glance at every now and then to make sure you did not forget anything and proceed as planned. They should contain only the basics, each point expressed in a couple of words – you will not have time to read more in the middle of a speech.
For example, a couple of friends, preferably with backgrounds similar to that of your future audience. Ask them if your speech appear logical and persuasive. Pay attention to their suggestions – you are likely to miss some things that are obvious for outside observers.
Unless you submit the text of your speech, your spelling and even grammar are not that important – you are going to deliver the speech to an audience, and spoken word has different standards, allowing for certain irregularities. However, you still should reread, edit and proofread the text – not for spelling mistakes, but for gaps in your argument, leaps of logic and suchlike. Carefully read your speech and ask yourself if everything works as intended.
Most business speeches presuppose the use of visual elements (slides, video, etc.). They make it easier to draw the audience’s attention and focus it on specific points of your speech. There are many amateur and professional presentation tools: PowerPoint, Google Slides and many others. Which one to use is mostly a question of personal preference, but you should be aware of your tool’s capabilities and limitations before you start out.
As you can see, preparing a speech is not as hard as one may believe it to be. Follow these guidelines, and you will complete yours in no time!