Making Formal Speeches

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Often this is the most difficult part of oral communication for many people.

Selection of the Topic

This is the first step in formal speechmaking. You may be assigned a topic, such as to introduce a speaker. Here, you are likely to be assigned a topic because you have some knowledge of the subject matter (the speaker).

In other cases, you will have to choose a topic by yourself. Do this using 3 basic factors:

1. background and knowledge (you need some knowledge of the topic and should be able to talk about it) 2. interests of your audience (audience appreciates and understands topic) 3. occasion of the speech: is the occasion a meeting commemorating a historic event, A monthly meeting of the executives’ club? An annual meeting of a hairstylist’s association? Whatever topic you select should fit the occasion. A speech about Japanese management practices might be quite appropriate for the members of the executives’ club, but not for the hairstylists.

Preparation of the Presentation

After deciding the topic to talk about, you must do the research; in a library, in company files, or maybe online.

After you have gathered the information, you can organize the speech according to the following order: introduction, body, conclusion.

Although not a formal part of the speech, the first words usually spoken are the greeting. “ladies and Gentlemen” is appropriate for a mixed audience; and ‘my fellow rotarians’ fits an audience of rotary club members.


The purpose is to prepare the listeners (or readers) to receive the message. But it usually has the additional goal of arousing interest. Unless you can arouse interest at the beginning, your presentation is likely to fail. There are several ways to get the attention and interest of your audience:

1. Human-interest story (a speaker talking about opportunities available to people with original ideas may tell a story of an immigrant boy of 17, who 150 years ago walked the streets of our town. He had no food, no money, no belongings except the shabby clothes he wore. He had only a strong will to work – and an idea.

2. Humour is another possibility: an investment broker might begin a speech on investment strategy as follows: “what you want me to give you today is some ‘tried and trusted’ advice on how to make money in the stock market. This reminds me of the proverbial ‘tried and trusted’ bank teller. He was trusted; and when they caught him, he was tried” Humour works best and is safest when it is closely related to the subject of your presentation.

3. Using quotations and questions (such as regarding a financial opportunity “How many of you have Individual Retirement Accounts)

4. Stating a startling fact (100 million Bangladeshis will become homeless because of rising sea levels due to the effect of climate change within 50 years!) for a speech about the dangers of global warming caused by carbon emissions.

However, the attention getting statement should lead into the main speech. It should have a connection to the topic of your speech.


Organizing the body of a speech generally involves taking the whole and dividing it into comparable parts. Continue to divide as much as possible. In speeches, however, you are more likely to use factors related to the issues and questions surrounding the topic of your presentations. Your presentation is likely to be built around subtopics of the subject. For example, a speech topic of “economic development of Bangladesh”, could be subdivided into the following factors:

▪ Agro-based business starting to take off
▪ Export – oriented industries earning $ 10 billion annually ▪ Remittances of expatriate Bangladeshis working in middle east ▪ Local investment in shopping malls creates consumer economy ▪ etcetera


Like most reports a speech usually ends with a conclusion. You should consider including the...
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