How to recognize dignitaries in a speech

Speech construction

The structure of the speech when writing a speech

The structure of a speech

The fir needle method


It is almost impossible to build a speech according to a given speech template. In my 20 years of experience as a rhetoric trainer, I have not come across a speech that was created with a classically taught speech structure that would have inspired me. ("5-sentence rule", "Introduction - main part - conclusion" etc.) These are all cerebral methods that actually prevent more effects than they build.

The best way to build up speeches is to act like an ant. An ant doesn't make an architecture plan until it starts building. An ant simply puts the first pine needle ...


This is how you do it with your speech: Start any aspect of your speech topic that flashes through your mind simply in spoken language (the way you speak, not the way you write). Then polish that up and this will be your first module. WHERE this module (from approx. 1/2 min to 3 min) enters at the end of your speech, or whether it appears at all, you decide at the end.




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Start with the most important module - the most important story - the most important message


So that you are not blocked when creating a speech because you simply have too much going through your head, do what professional speechwriters often do: it is best to start with the most important module. Ask yourself: "What do I want people to be told ". Then this is the central module. You start with the speech creation (speech structure). Then the most important things are already in the box. Once that's done, it's easier to build the rest around it. And it is perfectly normal for you to make corrections to this central module at the end, when the other modules are created.


The Steve Jobs Method - Writing Speech Like "Steve Jobs"

Steve Jobs gave his most iconic 2005 senior class speech at Stanford University. With a detailed analysis, you can see an invisible but very simple speech flow that you can easily imitate. Pay attention.

  1. Announce your own rules of life to the audience. What matters is that it really isown, are rules of life that come from their lives. None of Einstein, Buddha or Lao Tzu

  2. You feed the whole thing with stories. Preferably with your own self-experienced stories, but it is also possible to take stories from third parties or from history


You will find a detailed description of this procedure here. Write a speech using the Steve Jobs method



The "first talk - then write" method

First, take cards. On this you write your note-like thoughts on the topic, ideas, keywords, remembered facts, remembered stories. But per idea, onlya map. Now the next steps follow:


  1. You write a heading or a catchy catchphrase for each card.

  2. Then take one of these cards, speak freely and improvise and record it with the recording function of your mobile phone (another option is to quickly jot it down on the side - but that is more difficult). Then write down the recording and in this way have the first written version of your speech. Repeat this with each of your cards.

  3. Then shuffle the cards like a deck of cards and sort them again. Amazingly, this often results in a much better sequence, showing repetitions and useless thoughts that you now take away. Then speak the speech again, record it again and type it off: The second version of your written speech.

  4. Because you only talk for key words and then your own type of formulation automatically comes into your head again and again, it is easy for you to find the same formulation every time (theater actors also do this to memorize a role). Do not learn by heart. You can see the sequence on the cards. Little by little, the improvised speech becomes a "frozen improvisation" (this is how the process is called in music). That means: you always look for the choice of words, and every time you spontaneously remember one, because it is yours own formulation. This is how you keep your spontaneity even though you are prepared almost word for word.


The procedure for mastering a free speech well is not to write it and then read the text, but exactly the other way around:to speak freely and to write down the text verbatim.

At the end, write down the entire speech. This is the reference version in case you don't remember the sequence.

Take A5 size cards made from cardboard-like paper. This is easier to hold and put back. Take as many cards as possible, a new card for each speech module. On the A5 cards, leave one half of the sheet free for the sake of clarity. Simply push the note cards back into the pile as you speak, as soon as the card topic has been dealt with. The cards must be clearly numbered, otherwise you will get lost in the order.


Here are the non-working instructions from rhetoric books and rhetoric seminars on how a speech should supposedly be structured.


Impracticable speech structure: Introduction - main part - conclusion

So they are told by rhetoric lecturers and book authors how to supposedly design a speech.


  1. Introduction:

    • Greeting the audience

    • Introduce yourself

    • State the reason for the speech and why you are able to talk about it

    • tell an anecdote on the topic or propose an unusual thesis

  2. Bulk:

    • Take a look at the past: what was before and how did we get here?

    • Describing the current state

    • Make it clear what needs to be changed and how to get there

    • Prove the target with arguments, examples and reasons

    • absorb diverging opinions and turn them off their hinges

    • Outlook for the future: what could the ideal situation look like

  3. Enough

    • Summarize what has been said

    • Request to take the suggested path

    • Thank the audience and say goodbye

Try to create an inspiring speech with such instructions ...
I've never met anyone.

Impracticable speech structure: exposition - speech core - speech conclusion

principle tripartition as in the short speech

Attunement on the audience, on the topic, on the situation
Entry with a kick Pun,Why You talk about -SayWhat You want to share, Examples, quotes and anecdotes allowed

Speech core:
Share what you want to communicate
Subject inSub-goals Split (steps)
Build levels / stations / steps
Walk through stations on each of the (in this graphic: four) levels:
Problematize i.e .:"ent"wrap (in the sense of "from" wrap)
Alternatives color in
Consequences pull
At the end of each level:
Stringency / Conclusion set, lead to the level of knowledge, leave the result, come to the next level
on the last, highest level is the
Conclusion - this is the climax and the ideological conclusion from the individual levels of knowledge (here a bold exclamation mark :)!

After the conclusion, the tension in the audience falls off, the most important thing was said, so:
Tension / moodcatch from below / draw up by announcing the end - the summary (this increases the tension in the audience again, the press pulls out the pens)


Final speech:
Summarize what has been said
Brief summary of the levels of knowledge achieved so far
Brief repetition of the results in a few sentences (deepening repetitions, making repetitions like firstbirth), eg: "... we saw that first ... / second ... / third ... etc. and recognized the consequences, that is is necessary (put a big bold colon here)


Now the (claim)Fire catalog !


  1. (do not have to be full sentences)
  2. Demand (change of opinion) 
  3. Demand (change of mind) 
  4. Demand (conclusion / drawing a conclusion)
  5. Call to action
  6. When?
  7. (w.m. with appointment orfrom now on...)
  8. Forward goodbye ...


Something else:
The applause goes to the final sentence
and then a decisive, clean finish


Speech structure: introduction - speech core - end


1.) Exposure (Entry / attunement):
Go to the lectern decisively, do not blur your appearance. Do not thinkOh, I'm supposed to ...Do not look at the audience in embarrassment when performing, go purposefully on stage, to the podium. From there, look at your audience. Take their time, the audience will need this time to visually absorb you. Don't do a microphone testwon tu sri testing ... orAm I good to hear too?. Record the audience. Take two deep breaths. Don't start withHi and not withHello. Greet the audience as they are used to. Don't start withSo orSo! orNow.... Do not start with the final request. Don't start with the climax. First, say two or threelost Sentences so that the audience can get used to your voice. Don't say anything stupid, nothing dramatic, better something friendly:I am glad that I am here ...I'm just getting off the subway ..., I read in the newspaper today ... and the like.
You don't necessarily have to give the title, but it needs to be clear why you want to talk about a particular topic and what you are dealing with.Say what you want to convey, what you want to talk about.

In the first part, what is to be said is announced, circled, made interesting, problematized, at the same time the attunement to the audience and its condition, to oneself and their contact with the audience, perhaps to the previous speaker and, last but not least, to the topic set is made and its problem. Start with a (short) example, a (short) description, a quote, an anecdote, what is on everyone's lips or something similar. The audience often has beloved (and perhaps false) reservations and inhibitions about accepting a new opinion. You have to take these inhibitions away from the listener and prepare them for what you want to convince them of. Often misinformation is the reason for the inhibitions in the audience to accept a new opinion, put it right (in short!). Make the listener inclined to follow you. Attract the audience. Let yourself be helped, you have a conversation partner with the audience who thinks attentively, even if he (according to Friedrich Naumann) only? remains silent, but not speechless. Heinrich von Kleist:? ... a look that announces a half-expressed thought to us as understood, often gives us the expression for the whole other half of it ...? - So let the audience help you to find and express the right thoughts and their expressions.
Circle the topic of speech in a spiral and approach the core in a targeted manner. When you get closer to the topic and find it, the next point follows, the talker's core.


2.) The speaker:
Divide your thoughts into sub-goals, even if you are at the rhetoric seminar; three to four such sub-goals are sufficient for a short speech. Create a dramaturgy of the speech in stages: the explosiveness and importance of the content (sub-goals) should increase to the overarching ideological climax, the conclusion. Is it better with oneRipper to begin with or a quote or a description that you have to decide. Now go through the individual sub-goals like stations
(Description of the problem?> Perhaps illustrate with a brief example?> Refute opposing views and remove inhibitions to change your opinion?> Paint out alternatives?> Stringency and drawing conclusions).
Complete each station with a conclusion that expresses your opinion. Help the auditorium to gain knowledge, do not instill your opinions in the audience, each individual in the audience has to come to your own opinion and climb the levels of knowledge himself.

You can only really see what you see for yourself. Only then do you go to the next station. Good rhetoric leads from level of knowledge to level of knowledge. Design the conclusion as a superordinate, world-indecipherable conclusion, into which all previous sub-goals flow (culminate). After you've climaxed and said the most important thing, the audience's attention usually sags. Fly overNot this necessary relaxation break.

3.) The end:
In the third part I summarize what I have said that I have worked out (together with the audience) and formulate the consequences I want to draw from it. I can then deduce my calls to action from this, which I then? Fire off? Like a catalog to top it off in the summary. These essential stations and structures and the rough structure of a large speech are also present in the spontaneous speech and in a short speech.

Tear the mood again from the bottom up, for example with:?We realized that first ..., second ..., third ...?. Do not be afraid of repetitions, deepen repetitions (Friedrich Naumann: Designing repetition like first birth) These repetitions should be as short as possible, only in two to three sets. Make it as simple as possible. Now draw the corresponding requirements from the results of the individual stations. Every demand or every appeal should be said in a single formulation; it no longer has to be a complete sentence. Are you firing your catalog of demands now? ab, your inner excitement can be very helpful in this, don't be afraid of it. At the end, always ask the audience to act, to do something. Examples:? ... Sign here ...?,? ... Write to your MP ?,? ... Call your neighbor ?,? ... Go out into the street and ...? . In any case, ask the audience to act! Every speech should encourage action; this is at the very beginning of this book in the definition of rhetoric. Especially in a practice speech you should invent as many actions as possible, even if they seem excessive at the moment. Take the practice speech as a game: you should practice using yourself. Who says: ?I didn't want to ask people so directly...? - why talk then? For example, when a Mercedes advertising specialist says:I didn't mean to ask you to buy it right away, I just wanted to make you think about Mercedes then he's been an advertising specialist for the longest time. When thinking about Mercedes, I should really only have to worry about such timid "advertising fuzzis". A speech without any knowledge value is pure ramblings, is "nonsense in a beautiful shape" (Friedrich Luft). A speech is not "small talk". And if this speech ends in the invitation:? I just wanted to ask you to think about it ...? Then that is bad. I can't stop thinking, I don't need to be asked to do so. Whether I'm alone or talking to others:I'm thinking! Waffle doesn't belong on the speaker's stage but rather in small talk at a party, although: self-confident people don't ramble in private - and: "Small talk" in private conversation can be the beginning of a "big talk".

My speech will only succeed if I am properly motivated and if I can motivate: "The only way to motivate a person is through communication". That means: I have to be affected by my concern without showing my concern. These dilemma are badDismay actor. Affliction does not show through a sad face but in commitment, in motivation, in one's own energy. I don't have to be concerneddo ratherbe, and it must be my innermost need to talk about it, I need a strong desire to convey my beliefs and feelings to the listener and to convince them of what I consider necessary: ​​What annoys me, what makes me happy, what are mine Experiences, what do I consider important, what are my conclusions, what should my listeners do as a result? Never let the audience go without taking an assignment (Iacocca) with them, otherwise they will feel taken advantage of.

A changed opinion is ultimately pointless if nothing comes of it, if nothing is done about it.Insight and knowledge alone is only a first step, but it remains ineffective if no action can be deduced from it. Increase your demands towards positive statements - not the last demands at the endNo more... orNo ... more ratherFrom now on only... orSo we have to ... do it (or similar).


Here is another summary of how to build a speech

The speech structure of a great speech


a. Exposure (max. 1/4 of the speaking time)
I. Attunement: attuning to the topic, the situation and the audience, removing the audience's inhibitions
II. Start with a whistle: anecdotes, experiences, puns, nothing "sucked out"
III. Spiral approach to the topic / getting to the core of the speech


b. The speaker:
I. Formulate sub-goals: divide the topic into stations and then
II. Build levels: These levels are basically to be arranged according to importance (dramaturgy of the speech). In exceptional cases, however, it can be deviated from, e.g. to increase the audience's attention through surprising connections. In any case, however, the most important sub-goal is to put the conclusion at the end of the speech core. H. Münzer thinks that 4-6 levels are a good measure.
III. Stationspace off: At the individual stations, the respective core problem is developed "with pleasure" (i.e. unwrapped, unpacked).
IV. Coloring in alternatives: In order to clarify problems, examples and alternative courses of action (what if?) Are shown.
V. Draw consequences / set stringency: From the previous one - everyone in the audience - should draw conclusions and come to a conclusion. In doing so, the audience must not be taught, rather they themselves - each individual - should come to knowledge. The stringency is characterized by the fact that the intended conclusion is indirectly compelling for the audience (stringency = compelling conclusiveness).
VI. Conclusion: At the end of the main part there is theideological conclusion, the conclusion. Here the conclusion is drawn from all that has been said before and taken to the ideological level of knowledge. (With exclamation mark !!) At this point at the latest, the audience understood what the speaker wanted. The speaker uses the generally decreasing attention of the audience after this point to pause for thought, he catches the tension again and then continues with the conclusion.


c. End (max. 10% of the speaking time):
In the final part, the levels of knowledge achieved are briefly summarized and the consequences, i.e. the stringencies and the conclusion, are shown and briefly repeated. This is followed by the "firing of the catalog of demands":


1) Demand (change of opinion)
2) Demand (change of mind)
3) Demand (conclusion / conclusion from it)
4) Call to Action
5) possibly fix an appointment
    6) Forward goodbye: This means not to end with a negation, but with a positively formulated demand in order to achieve a positive attitude from the audience. If the speaker is oneGive-away wants to give to the audience, the time has come.

the applause is for the final sentence. So plan your final sentence carefully and memorize it. If you don't want to write a speech yourself, you can turn to a speech writer.


Brief summary for the speech structure


The beginning

  • Attunement to the previous speaker / subsequent speaker / to yourself / to the audience. Attunement to the speech core
  • Correcting prejudices through interesting information
  • Puns, quotes, anecdotes are allowed, you have to win over the audience


The talking core

  • Announce the topic / raise the issue
  • Divide the topic into sub-goals / build stages / walk through stations
  • Data and facts / core information (but only briefly)
  • Provide arguments - paint the current problem with pictures
  • Present alternatives as not feasible
  • the climax / culmination of the speech is the conclusion


The end of the speech:

  • Announcement of the closing date
  • Summary
  • Deepen (short) repetitions
  • Fire the catalog of demands
  • the applause goes to the final sentence


See also "Speech Examples from Students"



Last update: October 21, 2020