Interactive Speeches

I was speaking about speechwriting to staffers on Parliament Hill in Ottawa recently when someone asked: How do you make a speech interactive? It was the kind of question one dreams of hearing from the podium. But, honestly, I don’t remember planting it. Happily, though, I had an answer at the ready.

“That’s something good speechwriters really work at,” I said. “For example, by taking the time to research the audience and then answering the specific questions that are likely to go through their minds as they listen to the speech.”

Another way is to stress the benefits or advantages of the speaker’s point of view – to the listeners. In other words, the speaker should pause regularly to ask, “So what does what I have to say mean to those of you in the audience?” And then the speaker should answer the question.

A third way is to ask rhetorical questions here and there throughout the speech. The speaker should then pause after each question, to give audience members time to think about the answers. People enjoy being challenged in that way, and they enjoy the pauses too.

Any other thoughts on making speeches interactive? If so, send them my way and I’ll share them here.