How to Research a Speech

Posted on June 7, 2014

How do you research a speech? Start by using your head.

I’m a professional writer with an acting background and I have years of Second City training so I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to speak at many functions. Whenever anyone has asked me how much research I put in to give any of my speeches, I’ve always answered, “very little.”

Made In Chicago recommended Joan Detz

My advice on how to research a speech:

Research a speech by interviewing other experts.
One of the best writing teachers I’ve ever had was Jerry Cleaver of The Writers Loft in Chicago. He, and many other writers, taught me that 90% of any subject that you are drawn to write about, or speak about, you already know. So write that 90% down. The 10% that you don’t  know and need to know or “tell,” for a book or speech, comes after your write the 90%.

the-writers-loft-1

 stick_figure_reading_open_folder_500_clr_6727Research a speech on the internet.

But here’s the kicker: you end up cutting out about 50% of your writing or speech anyway which leaves you with roughly 45% of your original writing and 5% of your research.

The lesson here is to adhere to the old writer’s adage: “write what you know”–first! Write down everything you want to say for your writing piece or your speech. I always find that most of what I want to say was already in my head. When it comes to adding more content or substantiating references or facts, I always know where to go to find them because I was clear on my subject.

Research a speech by writing everything you already know and let the pages tell you what else you need to know.

 If you are giving a speech, chances are you’ve been asked to do so because you are an expert on your topic. Trust yourself to write the body of your speech and as you begin editing and whittling down, it will become clear to you what you need to research so you can add to your presentation.

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