How do I write a reported speech

Politics & Communication

The task is to fill a sheet of white paper with meaningful thoughts, conclusive arguments and witty punchlines. How it works? You'll have to find out for yourself. Practice creates masters. And yes, that also means: you have to make mistakes every now and then and learn from them. You can just as easily learn from the mistakes of others. From these here, for example.


Quotations are not fundamentally wrong. The question is: what are you trying to achieve with it? An example:

"Ladies and gentlemen, in conclusion, one more thought that I would like to give you all along the way. Schopenhauer already said 'We rarely think of what we have, but always of what we lack'. In this one Meaning: Happy New Year to you all! "

How do you find that? Sounds smart, doesn't it? Oh, you don't know who Schopenhauer was? Then you are unlucky. Just smile, nobody will notice.

Seriously, this is how you ruin everything: the quote, the speaker, the mood. Especially since the Internet is not sure whether Arthur Schopenhauer, who incidentally was a German philosopher, is behind it or the English playwright William Shakespeare.

If you want to do better then explain whom You quote. With your first and last name, please. "The then Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer ...", "The actress Sophia Loren ...", "The co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, ...". Even if you are sure that everyone in the audience should know who is meant. After all, you don't want the two people in the room who don't know to feel stupid.

What is also not ideal: just leave quotations in the room. I admit it's the easiest. Some quotes speak for themselves. But it seems, firstly, smarter and, secondly, more charming, itself such To question quotes, to find out their meaning. Is it even true what that clever person said? Why did he say it? What's behind it?

What works even better than words from quotation databases normal People give off. Words like that are easier to come by than you think.

For example, if you have to write a laudatory speech for an award ceremony, speak to people who are close to the award winner. Ask the organizer, he can put you in touch with the right people. And then you talk to people who know about the topic in a completely informal manner. Those who are ready to have a chat and share one or the other anecdote.

If you then quote this person in the speech, even mention him by name, it shows that you are genuinely interested in the topic and is more authentic than the wise words of long-dead poets and thinkers.

numbers, data, facts

46.5 million registered cars in Germany. Federal government spending € 343.6 billion in 2018. 15,637 people killed by firearms in the United States.

Can you do anything with these numbers? Probably not, because you lack the context. The comparison with previous years, for example. And even then it is difficult to grasp numbers like that, to imagine what the should mean now. Especially when we don't have the chance to read it several times, but can only hear it once in a speech.

Putting numbers into speeches is difficult. The less the better. Here, too, the question of the meaning arises. Is it about showing off and making an impression? Then the word "million" sounds impressive. In the wrong context, this "million" can turn out to be negligible.

Ratios are better than absolute numbers. Depending on which context you choose here, you can achieve completely different effects. An example: "The federal government spends 400 million euros on child day care ...". That sounds very impressive. "... that corresponds to 0.0001 percent of the total annual expenditure". Oh. Well, better than nothing.

What also works? Compare numbers. "In 2017, 186,644 asylum seekers were registered in Germany. In the same period 178 million tourists traveled to Germany." Both numbers can hardly be understood in isolation. But side by side it quickly becomes clear what you are getting at. Without you having to leave a review. You don't need to say anything more about it. The numbers speak for themselves.

Well and good, think now. But sometimes there are numbers the Main topic of your speech. For example, at the general meeting in front of shareholders or when the budget is introduced in parliaments.

Two tips on this. First, harness the power of images. "3.6 million euros in sales from the sale of sneakers. If we were to put all our shoe boxes next to each other, we could line them up along a complete marathon route." Second, hand out handouts with the most important numbers. Ideally with suitable diagrams and graphs. Everyone can then see at a glance the numbers that they think are important.

Just talk about yourself

Perhaps you know this tip from advice givers: "Give something of yourself a price!". The advice isn't wrong - you just have to know what it's meant to be. I made this mistake once. And never again after that. Here's a quick excursion into one of my most embarrassing experiences as a speechwriter:

My speaker was invited to give three laudations in one evening: To Olaf Henning, Kristina Bach and Jürgen Drews. All of the greats of the hit industry who are enormously committed to charitable purposes and should be recognized for this commitment.

I had no idea about pop music back then. It also never occurred to me to contact the artist management and inquire about their work. So I took the easiest route: I let my speaker talk about himself: that he liked the Stones more than Rex Gildo. That his employees would have liked to accompany him to meet Helene Fischer. What politics has in common with music. And so on. The second laudator was not much more imaginative.

Then hit legend Roland Kaiser took the stage - and stole the show. "Dear guests, in contrast to the two previous speakers, I will refrain from talking about myself, but rather I will say something about our award winners". Thunderous applause.

Yes, you can tell something about yourself in speeches. You should just refrain from gibbering due to a lack of content.

Especially for laudations the following applies: The Award winners stand in the focus. He gets the applause, not the speaker. The speaker has only one task: to express genuine appreciation and to try to generate it in the audience. Yes, that is more exhausting than repeating your own life story.

But on the one hand it is a must if the laureate is not to feel fed up with cheap adulation. On the other hand, you as a speaker benefit as well: The audience thinks you are sympathetic because you have put a lot of effort and appear authentic.

But also in other contexts you should avoid talking only about yourself. Namely when you want to convince others.

Far too often only one's own arguments are brought up. "Buy / Choose / Decide for ... because only we can / offer / want ...!". That can work - it is better to orientate yourself on counter arguments and to refute them. Best of all, the strongest.

"The others think ... - I'll tell you why we see it differently: ...". This is not only taking the wind out of the sails of your critics. They also prove that you can argue better and not just deal with the subject superficially. That you to convince want instead of persuading.

And finally?

In the end, it's up to you. You can decide whether you want to learn from these mistakes or if you prefer to make them yourself. Either way, mistakes are part of writing a speech. If you don't commit to it, you don't learn anything.

So: Get out of your own comfort zone! Dare to do something, dare to do something, fall on your face - and get up again! And do better!

At some point you laugh about it and put the whole thing into a speech. Because stories always work. Especially when the joke is at your expense. But that's another topic.