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How to Write a Speech in Criminal Justice – Complete and Detailed Instructions for You

Writing speeches is an important albeit rarely discussed aspect of criminal justice courses. If you study this discipline, it means that you have at least some likelihood of addressing the court of law at some point in future. Therefore, you should get at least basic understanding of what it means, and what is expected of you. Preparing your own speeches and delivering them in front of an audience perform exactly this function – it gives you practical experience of proving your point to an audience that probably has strong convictions of its own.

Even if you know the subject well and have no problems with writing assignments on it, speechwriting is likely to offer you some difficulties. The thing is, it is different from most other academic texts because it occupies a position somewhere between the written and the spoken word. Although you write your speech down, you should always keep it in mind that it is meant to be spoken, not read. Therefore, you should structure it so that you can effortlessly deliver it and your audience can easily understand what you say. In this guide, you will find everything you need to know before you start writing a speech of your own. It may be hard to begin with, but if you follow these guidelines, you will soon succeed.

How to Write a Speech in Criminal Justice: Choosing a Rewarding Topic

You may have to give a speech as a part of a case study, and in this case, you will get a ready-made topic. However, usually professors give students a fair amount of freedom. The right choice of topic can make a lot of difference for the overall success of your speech.

1. Draw from Your Experience

The primary purpose of a speech is to click with your audience, and the best way to do it is to tell them about something nobody but you can tell. If you have any personal experience of dealing with the justice system, or have a friend or relative who had such an encounter, you can put it in the foundation of your story.

2. Choose Something of Personal Interest

Again, there is a lot of difference between talking about something you are passionate about and delivering a speech just to check a box. Think of a topic related to criminal justice and develop it further.

3. Take a Look at Recent News

What mass media certainly have no shortage of are reports of crimes and all things crime-related. Go through the current news and see if you can find a relevant topic of immediate interest.

4. Brainstorm

If you already have a broadly defined topic, narrow it down and specify it further. Brainstorming can help you in it. There are many popular brainstorming techniques, such as:

  • Freewriting. Set a timer and start writing down all the ideas related to the subject that come into your head. Do not try to shape them into definite topics and do not care if they are good, bad or silly. Set quantity over quality and do not stop until the timer runs out;
  • Word association. Write down your broad topic and think what other words or concepts you associate with it. Sometimes the best speech topics come from unusual pairing of subjects;
  • Mind mapping. Write down your main topic at the center of a page and start writing associated words, ideas, subtopics and subcategories all around it, connecting them to the hub. Then repeat the same with them and see the tree of your associations grow in all directions. As it takes a visual form, you will better understand how to connect seemingly unrelated subcategories and come up with an interesting topic.

5. Know What Topics to Avoid

Not all topics are suitable for delivering a speech. Your success depends to a large degree on your knowledge of which of them to avoid:

  • Overly complex topics. If you deliver a speech in front of class, it is by definition a short one – after all, your professor wants to give each of his/her students a chance to talk. Most likely, you will have very limited time to cover the topic. If you cannot get your point across without detailed explanations, charts and diagrams, better choose something simpler;
  • Controversial issues. Unless talking on a debatable topic is the part of your assignment, avoid talking about anything too contentious, like gun control or racial profiling. Especially if you do not know your professor’s stance on things – although he/she is supposed to be objective, you never know what can put you in his/her bad books;
  • Clichéd and self-evident subjects. If the topic of your speech can be boiled down to a platitude like ‘Society has to do something about drugs’, ‘Domestic violence is bad’, ‘Penitentiary system is inefficient when it comes to reforming criminals’, ask yourself, would you personally be interested in listening about it? If not, choose something different.

Here are some examples to use as a reference:

  • Why Our Victim Support Programs Should Be Reorganized;
  • Hate Crimes: Why Current Legislature Does not Properly Address the Problem;
  • Why Statistics of Domestic Violence Have Little to Do with Reality and What We Have to Do to Make a Difference;
  • Cybercrime: New Challenges for the Justice System in the New Era;
  • Wrongful Convictions: Is There Any Way to Undo Their Results?
  • Gangs and Gang Crime: Why We Need a Different Approach in Dealing with it.

How to Write a Speech in Criminal Justice: Preparations to Writing

A speech is a relatively short text, and you are likely to spend more time doing preparatory work and polishing the text than doing the writing per se. Do not scrimp on effort at this stage.

Tired of all the guides and never-ending instructions?

1. Research the Topic

Even if you think you know enough about the subject matter, spend some time digging further. Make sure you have the latest and the most relevant information. Check if the sources you use are up to date and credible. Be very selective with the sources you use, especially if you mention them in the speech – you have little time to spend on potentially inaccurate information.

2. Write Your Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is the main idea of your speech expressed in a single short sentence. Make sure that it:

  • Is declarative;
  • Uses specific wording and avoids vagueness and ambiguity;
  • Considers the audience you address and the occasion;
  • Is a complete sentence;
  • Expresses a single idea.

If your thesis statement does not meet all these requirements, you have to narrow it down further.

3. Write an Outline

An outline is something between a plan and a barebones version of your speech. Due to the small size of your average speech, an outline is not going to be much smaller than the final product, so pay special attention to the structure and connections between sections. Decide how you want the speech to go, jot down the sections you will use and their contents. A typical speech structure is as follows (although you can get creative and do things differently):

  • Introduction. You introduce the problem and grasp the audience’s attention. You can do it in a variety of ways: by starting with an interesting story (especially if it is seemingly unrelated to the subject, and you then suddenly make your point clear with a single witty remark), by introducing a thought-provoking fact or statistic or making a shocking statement;
  • Main objective. It is your thesis statement followed by the mention of your experience to give credibility to what you will say afterwards;
  • Main part. Here you try to get your main message through. Single out a few points supporting your idea and introduce them one by one, along with the evidence to back them up. Do not mix them up or go back and forth from one to another. Make the structure logical and prepare the way you connect these points beforehand;
  • Conclusion. A closing statement that sums up what has been said before and ends the speech on a powerful note.

4. Prepare Strong Content

This is what will make your speech persuasive and memorable, its strong points around which you will build the rest. These can be:

  • Relevant personal experiences;
  • Quotations;
  • Factual and statistical evidence;
  • Carefully prepared key statements.

Write down where you will use them and intersperse them across the speech for maximum effect.

How to Write a Speech in Criminal Justice: The Most Important Writing Tips

1. Calculate the Word Count

Professors normally tell you how long you will have to talk, not how many words your speech should be. Try to convert the length of a speech into word count. There are online tools that do this, but the speech tempo differs from person to person, and you should not take their results at face value. Better take a text, read it aloud at your normal speed and measure the time using a stopwatch.

2. Write Conversationally

You will have to deliver the speech, so consider it from the get-go. Make sure it rolls easily off your tongue and the audience has no trouble following it. Use relatively short and simple sentence without multiple clauses. Avoid using legalese whenever possible – your audience is supposed to understand it, but simpler is usually better.

3. Be Exact and Specific

Criminal justice is a discipline that deals with sensitive subjects and requires complete adherence to facts. Consider this when choosing your words, expressions and supporting evidence. Back your points with facts and statistics whenever possible and avoid using vague phrases and appeals to emotions.

4. Avoid Pronouns

In written text, the reader can always go back and see what a pronoun refers to if he/she does not understand it. In a speech, it is impossible, and you risk confusing your audience if you use pronouns too liberally. It is alright to introduce them occasionally, but make sure you refer to things by their names whenever possible.

5. Repeat Important Words

Repetition is a powerful method of getting your point across. Choose a word you want to emphasize and repeat it several times throughout the speech, focusing the audience’s attention on it (e.g., by always following it with a pause). For example, if you talk about societal dangers of false convictions, you can choose the word “innocence” and introduce it emphatically at crucial points of your speech.

6. Simplify wherever Possible

Your job is to drive your point home, and the fewer and simpler words you use to do it, the better. After you finish your speech, reread it and cut any superfluous words and expressions.

How to Write a Speech in Criminal Justice: What to Do After the Speech Is Done

After you have finished writing your speech, there is plenty more work to do.

1. Review the Speech

Read your speech multiple times, both to yourself and out loud. Texts often feel very different when spoken than when read, and you may suddenly discover that a passage that seemed to be perfectly normal is not as good as you thought it to be. Check if sections connect logically and if the speech maintains a stable pacing throughout. See if you backed up all your points equally. If you find anything lacking, make corrections.

2. Decide whether to Use Visual Aids

Speeches are often accompanied with slides and other visual aids, and they can become an integral part of your delivery. However, some people believe that using them breaks up their connection with the audience and disrupts their focus. Decide whether using them fits your delivery style and which tools, if any, you are going to use.

3. Make Notes

Jot down the most important points of your speech so that you can refresh it in your memory just by looking at these notes. You are not supposed to read your speech, but taking glances at the notes is alright.

4. Practice

Practice delivering your speech. See if you manage to fit it into the allotted amount of time and cut/add if necessary. Have somebody listen to you delivering it and ask for his/her opinion.

5. Memorize the Opening and the Conclusion

You do not have to memorize your entire speech – in fact, trying to do so will make you too dependent on your text, and if you forget something you can lose your train of thought altogether. So, it is better to make the main part flexible. However, the opening and the conclusion are very important for the overall impression, and ad hoc changes to them can prove undesirable.
We hope this guide has clarified the most difficult aspects of writing a speech in criminal justice, and now you will be able to write one without a hitch!