Speech Writing: The 3 Column Template for Crafting a Speech

Speech Writing: The 3 Column Template for Crafting a Speech by motivational speaker Kelly Swanson

We all have different approaches to writing a speech – none of them wrong if it results in a quality product.

Sometimes the hardest part of writing a speech happens before you write the first word –the preparation – that stage when all of your thoughts and ideas are floating above your head in no order whatsoever.

You sort of know what you want to say in bits and pieces, but have no idea of how to put it together. Or how to even start. And when you try to explain it to somebody it sounds even worse. This article is to help you prepare those thoughts and ideas to make the writing process much easier.


By organizing your thoughts in three columns.

I’m going to assume that you have a message and you have an audience. If you don’t, then perhaps you should be rethinking this whole “I’m going to be a famous speaker” idea. You need a message. The audience can come later, but you still must have some idea of who you are talking to. A speech written for teens will be much different than a speech written for senior citizens.

On a piece of paper draw three columns. Give the first column the title: MESSAGE. Give the second column the title: ABOUT ME.  Give the third column the title: ABOUT THEM.

Your speech will have three major components: the message and points you want to make (what you want to teach them), the stories you have chosen to illustrate those points, and the things you will do to make your message about them.

All three are vital, especially the last column, which so many speakers forget resulting in a speech filled with instructions that is only about them.

In the first (Message) column you basically finish these statements in your words:

We have a problem in our world today and it is __________

And because of this people __________

And __________

happens I have experienced this myself when __________

And found that the answer is __________

And here are the steps you take to get there _________

The message column is the place where you are basically setting up the problem, your solution, and that you are here to help fix it, and here’s how you do it. This is the content  – the take away – what people will learn from you that they can take back to their lives on Monday morning.

The second (ABOUT YOU) column is all about you.

These are your stories, your life experiences, stories about people you know – comedy bits, pictures, music – whatever you want to use to SHOW your audience how this message applies to life.

This is the part that adds the energy and flavor and helps you address things like short attention spans.

This is the part where you can swap out stories for ones that fit this particular audience better.

This is the part that is truly unique to you as a speaker and a performer.

The last (ABOUT THEM) column is about them.

This is where you take your message and ask them how it relates to them. The best way to make your speech about them is to ask questions – even if you don’t expect them to answer.

Use statements like:

Have you ever noticed this about yourself?

Have you seen the signs in your own life?

What do you do in those situations?

Where are you stuck?

Do you find examples of this in your own life?

Let’s talk about how this affects you.

Do you remember back to a time when?

Why don’t we discuss some ways that you….?

Do you ever feel…?

When have you found…..?

If I can do this, so can you. It’s not too late for you to…..

Now you merge the three columns in any order you want, using your own style of language to achieve the desired affect.

Have fun and happy writing!

KELLY SWANSON is an award-winning storyteller, comedian, author, motivational speaker. She has been described by “Our State Magazine” as one of North Carolina’s funniest women. She uses hilarious comedy, powerful stories, and a wacky cast of southern characters to make people laugh, remind them of their value, and show them how to stand up and stick out in their lives, businesses, and communities. Her shows have delighted audiences from coast to coast, from board rooms to cruise ships. To invite Kelly to your 2014 event, contact Sue Falcone at sue@simplysuespeaks.com or call 1-888-766-3155.


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