How to Write a Short Speech: An easy method

31-May / Speech Writing / 0 COMMENTS

How to Write a Short Speech

Conferences are asking speakers to write a short speech rather than a long one: Ignite! (5 minutes), Icarus (140 seconds), and Pecha-Kucha (640 seconds). Even if you aren’t presenting at a big conference, there are times when you will be asked to give a talk within a strict time limit.

Here is how to write a short speech:


1. Know your speaking rate

–find a written speech, time yourself for one minute giving the speech, and then count how many words you got through. Repeat a few more times for accuracy. This will give you a good ballpark figure for how long you need to write your presentation.

2. Plan to come in under time:

With 140 seconds, shoot for 110-120. Use the extra time as a buffer for pausing or if you lose your place.

3. Sculpt your speech:

Imagine that you are sculpting a figurine out of clay or wood. You start with a large chunk of material and then whittle down. With your speech, write down everything that you want to say. From there, revise what you want to say and make it shorter each time.

4. Use stories and examples:

The easiest way to get your point across in 140 seconds is to use a story. A single story can illustrate what you do and make it easy for the audience to understand.

5. Say it out loud as you write it.

People make the mistake of writing down what they will say and then just reciting that. As you write, say your words out loud to make sure that they sound like you and that it sounds like a talk. Ignore grammar check on Word.

6. Make things shorter.

Cut out jargon and reducing the number of syllables within words.

Put it into action:


Step 1:

Know your speaking rate

Step 2:

Set a word-limit goal based on your speaking rate and also plan to use less time than allotted.

Step 3:

Write out everything that you want to say–exceed the goal in step 2

Step 4:

Revise what you want to say with subsequent drafts that are shorter than the first. To make drafts shorter, do the following: Cut unnecessary jargon, replace long words with shorter ones, and use stories and examples in place of long lists of facts or explanations.

Step 5:

Practice and time yourself. If you still cannot make it any shorter, find a friend who is a good critic and have him/her help you out.

Need help with your next speech?


Get my speech writing and audience survey to help you plan out your next speech. It's the same survey I use with all of my clients. You'll also receive daily public speaking tips!

Eddie Rice

Eddie Rice

Eddie is a speechwriter and public speaking coach. His clients include CEOs, college presidents, business owners, and government officials. Email him: eddie@customspeechwriting.com
Eddie Rice

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