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Nature of a Speech
A speech is a talk a person gives to an audience. It is meant to be delivered orally. Since the speaker is talking directly to an audience, a speech has its own peculiarities distinct from other forms of writing. There is some degree of familiarity between the speaker and his audience especially in relation to the subject matter of the speech. This permits some informality in the use of language.
Speech making is a skill which you need to develop right from your secondary school as there may be many occasions all through your life where you may be required to give a talk or an address. You may be required, as the president of a society in your school or a youth club in your community, to give a talk on any issue such as reviewing the activities during your tenure. You may be required
as the out-going senior prefect to give a speech at the annual prize-giving ceremony of your school. After your school life, there may be occasions that would require you to give a speech especially if you are the type that takes active part in social and political activities. Since the speech you would deliver would have to be first written down, it is Necessary that you acquire the skill of speech Writing.
Features of a Speech
Whereas the tendency in other forms of writing is to be formal, there is a degree of warmth and personal relationship in speech writing. Thus, there will be the prevalence of contracted forms such as ‘we’d like…” ‘I’ll imagine that …’. Also colloquialism and use of slang are permissible.
You may use some words or expressions that reflect common values or experiences. So, it is in order for expressions such as “we are all aware that…”, “As our people will say…,” ‘Surely, our elders cannot be wrong…’, ‘Let us not forget how we find ourselves in our present situation…’ etc.
Like any piece of writing, a speech is judged in terms of the speech writer’s success in achieving his purpose and the qualities to be looked for include adequacy of treatment of subject matter, originality of approach, appropriateness of language, and Clarity of expression. The speech should be able to engage and move the audience.
1. Opening or Introduction
The speech has to have an appropriate opening in which the speaker acknowledges the personalities and dignitaries present as well as stating the purpose of the speech. Here is an example:
‘Mr. Chairman, our respectable guest of honour, distinguished invited guests, our highly esteemed principal, our very dear teachers, my fellow students.
At about this time last year, I assumed office as the Head Boy of this our great school. All too soon, my tenure is ending and I am about to hand over the mantle of leadership and, as is usual for an occasion like this, I would want to use this opportunity to reflect on my experiences during the period’.
2. Closing or Conclusion
This is the opportunity for you to leave a lasting impression on the audience and so you should make the most of it. Just as you started, you should acknowledge and thank the dignitaries and the people present. Here is an example.
From all that I have said, you’ll no doubt agree that I’ve had a very exciting tenure as the head boy. There were many remarkable achievements, just as there were few shortcomings. I do hope that our successors will consolidate on our achievements and avoid the mistakes we made. Our six-year stay in this school has been a most wonderful one and on behalf of the outgoing students, I pledge that we will be worthy ambassadors of the school.
Mr. Chairman, our principal, teachers, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all.”
Please bear in mind the above features but note that the topic of the speech would determine the form of your opening and closing.
Common Errors in Speech Writing
Generally, speech writing is not a popular topic in the chosen essays of SSCE candidates. Most SSCE candidates do not appear to have acquired the rudiments or essentials of speech writing, a fact that is clearly evident in the essays of the few candidates who write speeches. Most of them do not give the appropriate opening and closing, while the tone and language of the essay do not show the expected warmth and familiarity that should arouse and engage the audience. Some candidates adopt the format of an article instead of that of a speech.
So, if you choose to write a speech, make sure that you understand its demands and requirements.
Model Question and Answer on Speech Writing
As the outgoing senior prefect, write out the speech you will deliver at the prize-giving ceremony of the school’s end of year activities.
A Bumpy Train Ride: My Experience as Senior Perfect
Mr. Chairman, our respectable guest of honour, distinguished invited guests, our highly esteemed principal, our very dear teachers, my fellow students.
At about this time last year, the other incoming prefects and I sat on the first two rows of the seats in this school hall and listened to the then outgoing senior prefect make his final speech. All too soon our own tenure is ending and the mantle of leadership is about to pass to another set of prefects. Those incoming prefects of a year ago are now outgoing and it is with great honour that I am making this speech on their behalf. As is usual on an occasion such as this, I would want to use this opportunity to reflect on my experiences during the period.
Really, it has not been rosy. During my years as a junior student, I had envied those charged with the responsibility of taking care of school affairs, especially when they yell orders at us junior students. I never knew that there was more to prefectship than giving commands and enjoying some privileges. Initially, we found it difficult combining our studies with the demands of prefectship. It was like the two could not go together. With time, however, we found that with extra efforts and good organisation, the demands of leadership need not affect the pursuit of our academics.
We, the prefects, also found out that if we were to succeed, we must work as a team and lead by example. We had to rise at 5.00 am., we endeavoured to be at the right place at the right time, we adhered strictly to the rules and regulation of the school, and we did the very things we expected the other students to do. These required discipline, determination and dedication and it did not take much time to yield the desired fruits among the fellow students.
The school authorities gave us the necessary support. They were always willing to listen to our complaints and often offered suggestions on how our problems could be solved. We the prefects were usually informed whenever decisions affecting students were to be taken and they were always willing to incorporate any suggestions we made so as to make the decisions to go down well with the students. All these contributed to the peaceful and harmonious student-authority relationship we had during the year.
Nonetheless, it was not plain smooth sailing. In the bid to enforce the rules and regulations of the school, we had to quarrel with some of our mates who thought that, being final year students, they could do whatever they liked. We made them realise that nobody was above the law. In actual fact, we had to deny ourselves some of the privileges of pretectship so as not to give cause for this group of students to blackmail us. I will want to advise the incoming prefects that such sacrifices are worth making in order to maintain and sustain discipline in the school. If there is anything I have learnt during my tenure, it is that leadership involves sacrifice.
My experience as senior prefect was not all doom and gloom; it had its bright sides too. Take for instance the various quiz and football competitions we participated in. The joy of being victorious was always a nice experience. The drama society offered rich avenues for recreation and temporary diversion from classroom work. These activities ensured that we had very good education that developed the body as well as the mind.
Let me at this stage point out some things which should be improved upon or changed altogether. Some of our teachers do not keep their classes, and appear already frustrated with the job. This lack of seriousness on the part of teachers is affecting the quality of education which students are receiving in this school. Our library is stocked with very old books and the science laboratory is poorly equipped. A change of attitude by teachers and the provision of the facilities are necessary if this great school is to continue to maintain the high Standards for which it is known.
From all that I have said, you’ll no doubt agree With me that I have had a very exciting tenure as the senior prefect. There were many remarkable achievements, just as there were a few shortcomings. I do hope our successors will Consolidate on our achievements and avoid the mistakes we made. Our six-year stay in this school has been a most wonderful one and on behalf of the outgoing students, I pledge that we will be worthy ambassadors of the school
Mr Chairman, our principal, teachers, invited guests ladies and gentlemen and fellow students, I thank you all.
The topic demands a good knowledge of the subject matter which the writer has shown. He begins by taking the reader back to when he, along with the other prefects, was appointed and gives a graphic picture of how they then sat. Then the speech continues with the reflection of his experience in office as required: some pleasant, some unpleasant; some achievements, some shortcomings; advice to the incoming prefects; some lapses in the school and suggestions on how things should be amended. This speech is rich in content.
The speech opens with an appropriate introduction, i.e., the usual vocative expected at the beginning of a speech. The points are logically organised and the paragraphing is good. The conclusion, too, is fitting as the writer thanks and acknowledges the dignitaries that are present. Note the title of the speech; from this, the appetite of the reader is already whetted on what is to follow.
The general tone of the language appreciates the presence of an audience. The words and expressions are carefully chosen to engage the attention of the audience. Note the attempt of the writer to be emotional. This is allowed in this type of essay though, it should not be allowed to get out of hand.
The writer has a good appreciation of the mechanics of English. His grammar, spelling and punctuation are quite right.