Should You Script Your Speech? (part 3 of 4)


In part 2 of “Should You Script Your Speech?” I discussed two advantages of scripting your speech. In this article, I’ll discuss three more advantages.

Right On Time

One of the worst mistakes a speaker can make is to take more than their allotted time … it’s also one of the most common mistakes. It’s disrespectful, it’s inconsiderate and it’s just plain wrong. But every time you decide to “just wing it”, you run the risk of going overtime and falling out of favour with your audience. Even if your presentation is entertaining and people are enjoying it, you may be taking time away from other speakers on the program or cutting into the timing of other events that have already been planned. And if it’s close to lunchtime … let’s just say there are more difficult ways to make enemies.

There’s always the possibility that you may take up less time than you’ve been allotted, and audiences are very appreciative when presenters do this. But if your reason for taking up less time is that you don’t know what else to say, then you’ve most likely delivered an incomplete message and wasted the audience’s time. That won’t happen with a well-written speech.

When you script a speech, you can do more than just time your speech accurately. You can arrange it in timed segments which will allow you to eliminate parts of the speech without interrupting the flow. If you are forced to speak for a shorter period of time (because someone went overtime or the meeting started late), you can still edit your speech to fit the new time limitations.

Important Details

In an extemporaneous speech, it’s common for speakers to forget an important point they wanted to share with the audience. When this happens, the speaker usually repeats the old adage, “the audience will never know what you left out.”… but that’s a problem. Sure, the audience won’t know you’ve missed something, but you will have left them without information that may have helped them… information that may have driven your point home… information they needed to know.

There’s a lot going on when you give a speech – a lot that you’re responsible for doing and remembering simultaneously. So it’s quite natural for a presenter to forget some of the details he or she wants to share. Also, if the presenter is speaking “off the top of his head”, the most important details may not come to him until after the presentation is over.

Once again, that won’t happen if you’ve scripted your speech. A well-written speech will include relevant and important details that bring your main points to life and drive them home for the listener.

Unnecessary Detail

Are you familiar with the abbreviation TMI? It means “too much information”. It’s a term friends tend to use when they’ve been given more “personal” information than they’re comfortable with. Well, in the case of extemporaneous speeches, TMI is often a problem. Whether it’s giving far too much detail while telling a story, or simply telling a story that didn’t need to be told, examples of TMI run rampant.

I know this is getting repetitive, but… that won’t happen with a well-written speech. During the editing process, any and all irrelevant and unnecessary information is eliminated. So your audiences will be saved from TMI.

I’ll discuss two more advantages in the final article in this series.

John Watkis is a freelance speechwriter, speaking coach and keynote speaker who helps his clients use the right words at the right time in the right way so they can educate, influence and inspire their audiences.

For more of his tips on public speaking, and to get your FREE “Successful Speeches Toolkit”, visit

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