Essay Writing: Speeches

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Good writing consists of three stages:

  1. Pre-writing
  2. Writing
  3. Post-writing and proofreading
  1. Pre-writing: Brainstorm, cluster, organise ideas, think about expression and vocab, produce an outline (paragraph by paragraph detailed plan) – know the ending before you begin.
  2. Writing: Write the essay (new/better ideas and forms of expression emerge as you write – incorporate them). Focus on ideas, expression and structure.
  3. Post-writing and proofreading: Always revise your essay – for homework assignments, make time to edit your first draft and produce a second draft. Add, omit, change ideas. Change the order of ideas. Improve expression and sentence structure. Check spelling, punctuation and grammar. In exam conditions – re-read and improve where possible.

The best way to improve your writing is to keep writing. Also read a variety of material – fiction, biographies, sports journals, newspapers, etc – to gather inspiration for new ideas and good styles of writing.

When it comes to writing speeches, here are is a checklist that will help you during all three stages of the writing process:

Formalities of Speeches

  • Opening address
  • Choosing a side
  • Overall defense or attack of the motion
  • Include audience – you, we
  • Appeal to the audience
  • Final confirmation of truth of your chosen side 

Persuasive Devices

  • Repetition
  • Rhetorical Questions
  • Triadic Phrasing (The Rule of Three), Listing
  • Alliteration
  • Metaphors, Similes
  • Hyperbole, Understatement
  • Anecdote; Humour

Features of a Good Essay

  1. Attention grabbing intro
  2. Summarising, thought-provoking conc (no new ideas)
  3. Focus on the task in every paragraph
  4. Original, fresh ideas
  5. One distinct idea per paragraph (topic)
  6. Logical flow from one paragraph to the next
  7. Examples, evidence, facts, support for distinct idea (topic)
  8. First and last sentence of each paragraph – still on same topic
  9. Transitions between paragraphs where possible/appropriate
  10. Advanced level of expression and vocabulary, appropriate word choice
  11. Sentence structure – accurate and varied
  12. Punctuation – accurate
  13. Accurate spelling and grammar

Points 1 – 4 above will gain you marks under the heading of Purpose (30%); 5 – 8 under the heading of Coherence (30%); 9 – 12 under Language (30%); point 13 under Mechanics (10%).

Persuasive Writing

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Here is a nice little video on Persuasive Writing. It will be useful for when you are writing a persuasive text, or when you are asked to identify the techniques used in a piece of persuasive writing.

Bill Clinton’s speech to nominate Obama

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Here is Bill Clinton’s speech, delivered at the DNC, to nominate Barrack Obama as Presidential Candidate in the 2012 election. As we would expect, Clinton is a master at rhetoric and holds his audience captive. This speech is well worth examination by any student interested in politics or speech writing in general.

Speech Writing

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If you are asked to write a speech you must be aware of the purpose of this piece of writing. For example:
School assembly
Eulogy
Wedding
Politics
Sermon
Military preparation
A radio magazine programme
To motivate people to do something

Effective speeches generally have some of the following characteristics or elements:
Repetition
Rhetorical questions
Emotive language
The rule of three
Anticipation of counter arguments
Convincing statements
Direct address to the audience
Using a negative to in fact make a positive
Figurative language
Simile, metaphor and personification
Alliteration, assonance and onomatopoeia
Speaker credibility
Startling statements
Logic / statistics to back up an argument
Hyperbole
Juxtaposition
Humour
Testimonial
Anecdote

Speeches may appear on Paper I in Question B of the Comprehending Section or in the Composing Section.

Here are some examples of Question B from the Past Papers:

2011 Text 2 QB
Write a talk, to be delivered to your School Book Club, on the enduring appeal of the mysterious in books, films, etc. You might refer to some of the following aspects of the mystery genre in your answer: setting, tension, suspense, dialogue, characterisation, atmosphere, music, special effects etc.

2010 Text 3 QB
‘books are forbidden . . .’
Write out the text for a short radio talk where you explain the importance of books in your life and in today’s world.

2009 Text 2 QB
‘You’re old enough, I reckon, to make your own decisions.’
Write a short speech in which you attempt to persuade a group of parents that older teenagers should be trusted to make their own decisions.

2007 Text 2 QB
Imagine your local radio station is producing a series of programmes entitled ‘Changing Times’, in which teenagers are asked to give their views on the changes they welcome in the world around them. You have been invited to contribute. Write out the text of the presentation you would make.

2004 Text 1 QB
‘Then along comes school.’
You have been asked to give a short talk to a group of students who are about to start first year in your school. Write out the text of the talk you would give.

2003 Text 2 QB
You have been asked to give a short talk on radio about an interesting journey you have made. Write out the text of the talk you would give.

2002 Text 3 QB
‘Rights must be observed.’
You have been asked to give a short talk on radio or television about a fundamental human right that you would like to see supported more strongly. Write out the text of the talk you would give.

2001 Text 1 QB
Imagine your job is to welcome a group of foreign students to Ireland. Write out the text of a short talk (150-200 words) in which you advise them how best to get along with the Irish people they will meet.