In this chapter we will locate the start of the writing process long before composition. Everything is leading up to the central argument and there is much work that needs to be done before we get to that point. Before you are ready to begin you need to be sure that you really do want to make a speech, rather than take part in a panel session. You need to commit the time but, crucially, do not be tempted to start too soon. Once you have determined to proceed, you need to begin to get to know your audience. There are three ways of doing this – thinking, researching and asking. The best tactic, if you can, is to speak to people who are planning to attend. Then there are five questions you should ask yourself, as a further guide to what will be required of you.
1. What title have you been given?
2. How large an audience can you expect?
3. On what occasion will the speech take place?
4. How much does your audience already know about the topic of the day and do they have a prior prejudice?
5. Are you speaking to a larger audience than those who are gathered in the hall?
You will by now know enough about your audience that you are ready to think about what you expect from this speech.
Before You Begin
As the task of writing a good speech unfolds in this book, you will see that the pivotal moment, the fulcrum of the whole process, is the clarification of a resilient central argument. Everything prior to that point leads up to it and everything subsequent to that ...