Does the term “public speaking” make your palms sweat or heart race? While it remains a top source of anxiety for many, public speaking is an inescapable part of thriving in the workplace. After all, effectively talking to others is essential to communicating your ideas, vouch for your initiatives, or leading a team. Speaking publicly at work doesn’t necessarily mean getting up on a stage in front of thousands of people. It could mean speaking to your teammates about a project or briefing leadership on an initiative.

Whatever the forum, public speaking is always easier when you prepare a presentation and talking points ahead of time. Knowing how to write for public speaking can make the task feel less daunting and increase the chances you’ll deliver a knockout speech. This guide will cover how to write presentations for various audiences you work with every day.

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What is writing for public speaking?

Writing for public speaking is an important part of most people’s careers, whether they give presentations to their team for internal communications or deliver speeches at major industry events. It involves writing your key talking points, drafting a script for a speech, or creating visuals to accompany your spoken presentation.

Writing for public speaking is different from other types of business writing because your audience will listen to instead of read your content, which requires special attention to delivery, timing, clarity, personal engagement, and visual aids.

Great speeches take an enraptured audience with them on their journeys.

Foundations of effective writing for public speaking

Engaging presentation content starts with effective writing for public speaking. Make sure your script or talking points have the following qualities:

Clarity and conciseness

When language is clear and concise, your speech will be easier to follow and, thus, more likely to communicate your intended message. To achieve clarity, use shorter and simpler words and sentences to convey your point. Be direct. For example, rather than saying, “Our recent external audit of public perception of our most recent product demonstrated a generally positive sentiment,” try: “People generally liked our new product.”

Human interest and storytelling

Storytelling always makes speeches more engaging. Engaging speeches take the audience on a journey. Instead of focusing solely on facts and figures, include elements that tug on people’s emotions or needs in order to engage your audience the entire time. Pitching a product? Tell a story about how a customer benefitted. Recapping the results of a campaign? Highlight the teamwork that made it possible and take care to include those who contributed. Anecdotes, personality, and audience interaction can help your content become more memorable and will make the presentation more delightful and impactful.

Focused points

When you ramble or go off on tangents, you’re more likely to lose your audience’s attention. Focus your speech on a few relevant points or characters. Don’t overload your audience with too much information. If your goal is to fill your team in on the progress of an initiative, don’t talk about the five other things the company is doing. If you’re speaking about the benefits of your company, don’t spend too much time on what your competitors are doing. Make sure you stay focused on your main points. You may find it helpful to reiterate those points at the end of your presentation for extra impact.

Writing for Different Public Speaking Scenarios

In a business setting, you may find yourself in many situations in which you’ll need to speak to an audience, requiring you to tailor the tone and style of your presentation.

Presentations to a large group

When presenting to a large group, make sure that the content of your presentation is accessible to all members of the group, especially the least expert ones. Don’t use too many acronyms and avoid jargon they may not know. Leave time for questions at the end or even during your presentation. Pausing your monologue to engage the audience or check for comprehension makes it more likely that you’ll capture and retain their attention.

Team meetings

When speaking to a team, your goal may be to foster collaboration, generate ideas, promote morale—or all three. As such, these kinds of speeches tend to be more conversational and collaborative. Come prepared with an agenda or talking points, and leave a polished script for another occasion. Incorporate pauses in your presentation to take questions. If you’re asking your team to do something, such as brainstorm, make sure you are clear about that direction by displaying a guiding question as a visual aid. Lastly, balance informational content with motivational messages since a large part of team meetings is to generate excitement within your team.

Leadership briefings

Leadership briefings should be direct and focused on impactful information. Leaders have limited amounts of time and many prefer to have information presented to them in bite-sized chunks. Focus on key results and impact on the business. Executives also tend to like visuals that are easy to understand and scannable. Instead of loading lots of text on a slide, include charts and graphs that illustrate results, and present information in bullet points and tables.

Company announcements

Company announcements tend to be more formal than team meetings, so you might come with more thorough notes or scripting that’s even been vetted by human resources, legal departments, and other stakeholders. When delivering a speech on a company announcement, write down a few key messages to deliver. If it’s a quarterly review, for example, highlight the story of the quarter: Where the company started out, where it progressed, and any notable hiccups or success stories along the way. If you’re delivering sensitive news, do so directly, with empathy, and use pre-approved language.

Tips for more impactful public speaking delivery

Write for your audience

The key to public speaking success is to use your audience’s needs as the guiding force for your writing. Putting yourself in the audience’s shoes builds empathy and connection with them. Center their needs, interests, and expectations and write accordingly to help ensure your message lands as you intend. When communicating with large or varied audiences, keep your words simple, short, and inclusive. While you may be speaking to a large crowd, it helps to write as if you’re speaking to just one person so it comes across as personal, conversational, and engaging.

Come with notes—not a script

When just starting out writing for public speaking, it may be tempting to write down what you’ll say word-for-word. That may be fine if you’re giving a formal speech and need to have a very specific script. However, for most presentations, such as team meetings, it’s better to write an outline or a list of points you’d like to address. That way, you can look down at your notes to make sure you’re on track in the presentation, but won’t sound as stiff or robotic as you would if reading off a sheet of paper.

Revise and refine your written content

As with all content, editing your writing helps ensure it’s clear and impactful. Read it out loud to make sure it sounds natural and engaging. Instead of focusing on spelling or grammar, use Grammarly’s writing suggestions to revise your content so it’s clear, impactful, and speaks to your objectives.

Incorporate visuals and multimedia

Visuals in a PowerPoint or Google Slide deck can enhance your presentation. They give the audience something to look at while you talk so that their attention doesn’t drift away. Visual aids such as videos, images, photos, charts, and graphs should be simple and not include large blocks of text.


Rehearsing always makes showtime easier and more successful. Try to reproduce the conditions you’ll face on the day of the speech. Stand up if you’ll be on a stage, and sit down at a table if you’re presenting in a meeting room. If you’re presenting virtually, test your lighting, background, mic, video, and wifi. Speak slowly and clearly and make sure you know how to pronounce all the words you’ve written. Practicing out loud gives you a chance to make sure your points are coherent and that you’ll make sense to a live audience.

Ask for feedback

It’s worth it for important presentations to ask for feedback from a trusted friend as you practice. If that’s not available, record yourself giving a presentation and watch it back. Ask yourself: Did the points you wanted to say come off well? Did you speak loud enough? Did you use your hands enough? Too much? Grading yourself while you practice allows you to make any tweaks necessary before the big day.

Key points

  • Writing for effective public speaking must be concise, clear, and tell an engaging story so that the presentation holds the audience’s attention.
  • Effective public speaking can have concrete business benefits. It can amplify your team’s morale and productivity, convince investors to invest in your company, or show your superiors that an initiative you championed was successful.
  • Use presentations and visual aids to your advantage by incorporating charts, graphs, tables, and bulleted messages.
  • Come with notes on the main points you’d like to address in a presentation, rather than a script to read word-for-word. Doing so will make your speaking seem more relaxed and natural.
  • In order to improve your writing for public speaking, practice your presentation and ask for feedback to ensure your speech is the most impactful it can be.

Writing for public speaking FAQs

How can I adapt my writing for diverse audiences?

Consider who is in your audience, their level of understanding of the topic you’re discussing, and how they prefer to receive information. When speaking to another team about your team’s project, you may need to give them more context about the project before delving into the details. When speaking to executives, focus your content on digestible, easy-to-understand results.

What are the key differences between writing for in-person versus virtual presentations?

When writing for in-person presentations, you can rely more on your body language and audience energy, like whether they are laughing or not, to tailor your speech. When writing for virtual presentations, it’s harder to communicate with your entire body and to gain immediate audience feedback. In a virtual setting, you might use tech features, such as the chat section, to engage the audience or field questions.

How do I balance technical information with engaging content?

Try to use technical information only when necessary. Ideally, your full presentation will consist of engaging content, even if it’s technical. Focus on the key takeaways and simplify technical information to explain it to your audience concisely. Use visual aids or videos to help with understanding. Starting with a human interest anecdote and summarizing the key takeaways will make your presentation more engaging.

What techniques can help ensure my main points are memorable?

You can ensure your main points are memorable by pulling out the most impressive data points about the project you’re presenting on, and reiterating them at the end so the audience remembers them.

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