Preparing a Speech or Keynote Address - From Attending to Presenting at Conferences - Conference Proposals and Article Types

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

Preparing a Speech or Keynote Address
From Attending to Presenting at Conferences
Conference Proposals and Article Types

As a professional in the field, you may be invited to give a speech. This might occur early in your career when, for example, the local chapter of a professional organization invites you to speak at a dinner meeting. It might occur much later in your career after you are a well-established author, such as when the professional organization’s state or regional conference planning committee is seeking a speaker who can travel to the site. Keynote addresses at major conferences typically are reserved for scholars who are widely known and highly respected in their fields. In every case, a speech is very different from the other types of writing tasks associated with professional meetings for several reasons. First of all, speeches at conferences tend to be delivered to larger groups with fewer expectations for interaction. Secondly, speeches often have the purpose of stimulating thinking and generating enthusiasm for the meeting rather than training (as in the case of a workshop) or making an original contribution (as in the case of research). Many times, authors are invited to deliver a speech based on a successful book. This task poses the same major challenge as generating a brief research article from a 300-page dissertation; namely, distilling the message to its very essence.

If you are invited to give a speech, start by making a study of effective public speaking. Some resources to support you include:

· Vital Speeches of the Day—This publication is the actual script of effective speeches that have been delivered to various audiences. You can access their archives through a university’s online search engines and use them to understand key elements of public speaking.

· TED Talks and TED X Talks—Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) has a wide assortment of expertly-delivered speeches available on YouTube. They demonstrate how to identify a central message, sustain audience interest, and incorporate examples. To build your confidence, read Chris Anderson’s How to Give a Killer Presentation: Lessons from TED at published in the June 2013 issue of Harvard Business Review.

· Recorded speeches from the discipline—At least some of the keynote speakers at prior meetings of your professional organizations may have been video recorded, so viewing some particularly effective ones can be helpful. At times, the text of a keynote speech will be published as an article in the professional journal, so this is another way to get a glimpse of how highly effective speeches are structured.

· Talk with program planners—Be sure to inquire about the best speeches that were delivered to the group in the past. The better that you understand your audience, the more likely you are to produce an effective speech.

Publications on effective speaking—consult general references on public speaking (e.g., Russell and Munter, 2014; Sprague, Stuart and Bodary, 2015; Verderber, Sellnow and Verderber, 2014) as well as resources that focus specifically on presenting at professional conferences (Jalongo & Machado, 2015).