Preparing to give a speech College Life / Writing & Grammar

Hello everyone:

Since it’s the time of the semester when you may be required to give a speech, here are some tips for getting the job done right:

Read the instructions carefully. If the instructor doesn’t want you to talk about a given subject, don’t try to talk him or her into it. That will be one strike against you, if you do succeed in picking an irritating topic, so why chance it? (Case in point: do not talk about the legalization of marijuana in my classes. I have heard 40 speeches on that topic and it bores the daylights out of me. For the record, only one of those speeches were on NOT legalizing it.)

Next, begin early. (Oops, this may be too late for you!) If you get your speech ready a week in advance, you can practice it over and over until it is absolutely outstanding.  If you wait until midnight the  night before to pick a topic, start research, and write the speech, I will notice. You may think your gift of gab will cover your lack of preparation. You are wrong.

Next, do your research. A student of mine in a writing class stared at a blank screen for 45 minutes (I was working my way around the class and had started on the opposite side of the room, but I noticed her lack of work while I was with the other students). When I got to her, she said, “I don’t know what to write.” I asked her to show me her research and she said, “What research?”  Another “oops” moment.

Read your research. What does it say? Take notes and use the articles you found to bolster the main points you want to make. Be sure and note what information came from which sources, so that you can orally cite them in your speech. Failure to cite is plagiarism.

Write your speech. Don’t write it word-for-word, but what do you plan on saying, generally? Get your visual aids and/or Power Point done and practice giving the speech while using them.

Practice some more. And some more…and more. You get the idea. Keep practicing, “not until you get it right, but until you can’t get it wrong” (like a poster said that I saw in a band room).

Good luck and best wishes on your successful speech. Let me know how it went.


Dr. Sheri


Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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