To begin with, don’t rush into detail. The big picture matters, particularly to busy and successful people. So before you start writing, check that you can summarise each of the following three points in an impactful and simple sentence:
a. What is your charity’s core purpose?
b. How does it go about reaching that goal?
c. What do you want from your audience on the night?
These sentences will already put you in a strong position to write your speech. The following tips should help develop it further:
Only use statistics in a meaningful way. They are a vital way to make important points but they risk just becoming more numbers thrown at your audience. So be selective and use appropriate comparisons. For example, 90,000 sufferers of an illness is hard to quantify. But if you imagine a concert or match at Wembley Stadium and then imagine that every member of the full-house watching it suffers from that illness, you begin to evoke meaning.
Large numbers are important to prove a point but they can be impersonal. Charities rely on empathy to make their mark. And so for every collective figure you use, try to back it up with a real example. So forty thousand homeless people become relevant when one of them is called Ronald. Who was sleeping at Charing Cross Station. And who was forced to beg for small change even though he had previously studied History to degree level.
Don’t allow the weight of problems associated with the charity to dominate. If, as a result of your help, Ronald now has his own flat and a steady job, then say so.
Never forget to set out measurable and achievable outcomes. Explain clearly and simply how your audience can help someone like Ronald. What should they do next, and how will he and people like him benefit?
Don’t forget that although this cause means everything to you, your audience have other calls on their time and money. If they stand to benefit from their affiliation with your cause then explain why. Show them how much (or how little) of their time and energy you require.
Every Charity is underpinned by a serious cause. But don’t allow this to distract you from some of the key rules of speech making. For example:
a. Maintain a balance between sincerity and lighter content
b. Err on the side of brevity
c. Keep it simple, however highbrow your audience
d. Develop some core sound bites that will convey your key message coolly and calmly
I write speeches for a number of keynote speakers at fundraising events and charitable functions. I would be delighted to discuss how best to develop your speech to create the impact you’re striving for.
I look forward to hearing from you.