Things to keep in mind

A speech is very different from a writing assignment because we speak differently than we write. There are added variables that come with public speaking, and since the audience can't stop and re-read like they could an essay, it's important to keep these things in mind:

  • Use short(er) sentences and be intentional with word selection.
  • Consider the audience when crafting sentences (avoid jargon they might not understand).
  • Read sentences out loud as you write; hearing the sentences will keep you from tongue-twisting phrases and long-winded sentences.


The introduction must gain the attention of the audience and creatively arouse their interest in you and your message. It is best to relate the topic to the audience and prove to them why your topic is important right from the beginning of the speech. Whether it be through a horrific story or a comedic punchline (or anything in between), your creativity is necessary to create an engaging and intriguing speech opening. Once you have that attention you can then introduce the topic and your main points/arguments to the audience so they have an idea of where you'll be going in the speech. It is much easier to write the introduction after you've established the main points in the body of the speech.

  1. Draw in the audience with an attention-getter that relates to both them and your topic.
  2. Describe the purpose of your speech clearly; give the audience an idea of what you'll be speaking about. A brief summary of your main points initially helps keep the audience on the same page as you throughout the speech.
  3. Establish your credibility. Answer these questions: why should the audience listen to YOU about this topic? Why is this topic important?
  4. Write the introduction after you have all of your main points and the purpose statement so that you craft an introduction that accurately reflects what is to come.
  5. Keep a look out for possible introductory stories/quotes/information while you're researching your topic so you have a few ideas when you are ready to write.
A strong opening is like a gift given to the audience in exchange for their undivided attention.


The conclusion is vital; it is what you leave the audience with and largely what they'll remember when you walk off the stage. There are two main purposes for the conclusion:

  1. Signal the end of your speech. Avoid phrases like, "In conclusion..." or, "To summarize...," will help you seamlessly transition your audience into your final and most impactful words.
  2. Reinforce your central idea. Creatively and captivatingly emphasize your message through a quote from a credible source, a bold call to action, a reiteration of your introduction, or through another conclusion method.

So inspire hope, instill fear, dare the audience to dream, be sure to put thought into this, and say something worth remembering!

Prepared by GVSU Speech Lab Consultants

Information adapted from Stephen Lucas' The Art of Public Speaking, Tenth Edition.

Page last modified June 21, 2021