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How to Structure a Social Speech By Suzan St Maur How to Write Better
A Social Speech?When you give a social speech it’s usually notappropriate to read from a script, so you need tostructure the content in a way that allows you to “adlib” through it … but to a strong structure thatkeeps you on topic and to time.
Research – getthat right firstResearch – get that right firstWhen you’re asked to give a socialspeech, it’s essential that you establisha) what you need to say, followed byb) what you’d like to say.There are very few social speechesthat don’t contain at least a smallelement of obligatory thanks orappreciation for someone’s work, help,travel from afar or other keyparticipation, so it’s important to keepthose in mind and give them key placesin your structure
Other things can be intertwined with the obligatory sections … like anecdotes about the people being celebrated, funny (true) stories, jokes (if you’re good at telling them) and even housekeeping announcements.It helps a lot to make yourself a brainstorming file where you jot down all these components randomly, in no particular order. Once you’resatisfied that you’re on the right track with your scribbles, the next jobis to edit those down and order them into a realistic skeleton structure that will form the basis of your speech
A wedding example Mum worrying about flowersLet’s assume you are the Nancy’s dress too tightbride at a wedding and you Welcome/thanks Pete & Brian – school practical jokewant to speak immediately Dad’s speech – thanks Pete & Lilia – from SAafter your father does, and Brian’s old girlfriend on plane too (maybe not!!!)then hand over to your new Brian speaks next? Wants last word?husband. First of all, here Dad – bound to tell story about me losing the hamsterare some of the scribbles Dad – tell story about barbecue (hee hee hee) Toast to Brian/Mum/Dad/familyfrom your brainstorm. Thanks for coming Thank Mum and Dad for the weddingUnderline the elementswhich are essentials
Put the sections inorderNow all you have to do is puteverything into a logical order, anddrop any ideas which are irrelevant orrepetitive, which will make yourspeech too long, or which couldupset someone and land you in hotwater! Here’s what your skeletonstructure might look like…
A typical speech structure might be - Welcome everyone and thank for coming Thank Dad for compliments and embarrassing stories Tell embarrassing story about him (barbecue catching fire) Thank Mum and Dad for wedding Mention Pete and Lilia travelling over from South Africa Tell story about Pete and Brian, practical joke at school in Joburg Make joke about Brian always wanting last word – typical husband “But first,” propose toast to Brian and our families
Make notes in small chunksHere, don’t try to write your actual words for the speech. Just add some flesh to those bones. Forexample…Welcome everyone and thank for coming … am really touched to share this day with my family andgood friends … been really generous with gifts, thanks so much … really hope you’re having a greattime … Thank Dad for compliments and embarrassing stories … said I was beautiful, probably needs hisglasses changing … great Dad, love him so much … knew he would tell that story about thehamster … will never live it down …Tell embarrassing story about him (barbecue catching fire) … Dad always knows best … barbecuefor their Silver Wedding … wouldn’t let Mum and me help … whole lot caught fire … steaksruined, had to eat salad and dessert … then bought a book and taught all of us how to do itproperly …Thank Mum and Dad for wedding…best parents in the world whether good at BBQs or not …thanks so much for beautiful wedding … the best day of my life and BrianMention Pete and Lilia travelling over from South Africa … fantastic they could come here all thatway … Pete Brian’s best friend when they were at school in Joburg … wonderful that he and hiswife Lilia are here to share our wedding day … sad we couldn’t get out there for their weddingTell story about Pete and Brian, practical joke at school in Joburg … Pete & Brian don’t know Iknow about this … certain Maths teacher of theirs called Mrs Entwistle is still around … veryinteresting email from her about those two locking the Head teacher in his study “by accident,”oh, yeah? …Make joke about Brian always wanting last word – typical husband … being perfect wife will lethim …
Remember the Thanks and Toast “But first,” propose toast to Brian and our families … all of you, our families and my wonderful husband … and thanks again for everything
“Cheers”There. That wasn’t hard, was it? And believe it or not,you have created a detailed structure of your speechfor you to memorize (and/or copy out on to cue cardsto use when you’re up in front of the microphone.)This will allow your live speaking to flow well, to stickto the relevant points without “waffling” orwandering off-topic, and to be effective withoutsounding “scripted.
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