Are Prepared Speeches a Dying Breed?

Christopher Witt —  September 7, 2012

UKSWG-Conference-1-300x141I will be speaking at a conference of speechwriters sponsored by the UK Speechwriters Guild and the European Speechwriter Network at Bournemouth University. It will be in two weeks in a beautiful seaside resort southwest of London.

As I’ve been working on my speech, trying to whittle down what I want to say, I’ve begun wondering if scripted speeches are a dying breed.

Are scripted speeches an endangered species on the brink of extinction? Should they be?

Here’s what I mean by a “scripted speech.” You (or a speechwriter)

  • Analyze the audience, occasion, and event.
  • Determine what you’re going to talk about (your subject) and what you want to accomplish (your goal)
  • Do your research
  • Develop your message, which is what you are going to say about your subject in order to accomplish your goal
  • Create a detailed outline
  • Write our your speech word for word
  • Practice your speech and edit it again and again
  • Memorize or read your speech

In the past most speakers — the good ones, at least — gave this sort of speech. These days, not so often.

Very few speakers that I observe today read from a script.

The people who most frequently do rely on a script are:

  • Politicians in high office or politicians who are being televised
  • Business leaders who are giving a major (once-a-year) speech or a speech that has legal ramifications
  • Preachers

There are reasons why people have shied away from giving this type of┬áprepared speech, which I’ll examine in future posts. But, for now, I’m wondering 1) is this just an American phenomenon? 2) are there other situations where people read their speeches? What do you think?

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Christopher Witt

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Chris Witt was born in Los Angeles, California. He currently lives in San Diego. He works as a speech and presentations consultant, an executive speech coach, and an orals coach.