How to Write a Public Speaking Scene

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Part 1


1. What does the character have to say and how do they plan on saying it?

»A. Is it a written speech or are they going with the flow?

I. I. Are they an introvert or an extrovert? Depending on the situation, our nerves will be different and the way we respond to the audience will be different depending on the situation. They could be giving a church speech, a morale boosting speech, or an informative/opinionated speech.
II. Have they prepared their speech multiple times? Can they practically sing their speech or are they winging it and hoping for the best? This is really about how experienced this person is at giving speeches. People know “classroom” speeches and it can sound like they are just reading from the page, but can this character improvise depending on the audience’s mood? Will we know this as a reader/viewer? They might stammer their words at some spots when there are interruptions in the audience or maybe a supporting character is cheering them on from the side and they make eye contact.
 
  
 

»B. What’s the setting?

I. Is this a significant speech for this story? Is it somewhere memorable where people know them or are they are stranger?  
II. Do they have a strong need to impress? Do they say whatever is on their mind or is it formal casual? Maybe this a speech about key events in the story or a sub plot that needs to be addressed before the main story continues. 
III. Part of making this speech convincing and giving the character “weight” is researching how such speeches are given. A politician doesn’t sound like a college professor, and a news anchor doesn’t sound like a religious leader. Rebels in a conflicted story also have their own voice.
 
  
 

Part 2

2. What do they see and how many people are watching and listening to them?

»A. Where are they at exactly and how many people are there? How is the atmosphere in the room?

I. Maybe there are crowds of people and they don’t have the same views on subjects. They could’ve been assembled by happenstance or maybe they gathered on the street. If the speaker is using common sense to unite them, maybe the audience would find they are not so different from one another in regards to an important motivation in the story. However, maybe they are using the wrong words and people don’t like the message and the character begins to see the doubt and contempt in their eyes.  
II. Describe the surroundings and if that helps the character when they speak. Maybe the lighting is dim. This largely relies on whether this speech is the focus of the story. This is going into a major point. If you do something like this, you will want to have the speech fully revised. After that a behind the scenes plot could occur that may distract from the main event. It is easier to dissect the speech to only the most relevant bits when it is actually complete! 
III. The character can be close to the crowd or far away. They could have a microphone or maybe they are having to shout in order for people to hear them in the back. How strong is their voice for this speech? How earnest or sincere is their message? People give less attention to B.S. and they will give their full attention when the message is short and to the point. However, the audience might get bored and start walking away as the speech goes on. Then again, if it’s a speech at the beginning of a musical concert or a festival then everyone is ready to have a good time! A proper message for the event is needed here.

 
  
 

»B. Do people seem to care about what the character has say? Does the character feel confident and giving the speech because the audience wants to pay attention?  

I. Is the audience speaking with each other and if so is it about the character and what they’re saying or is it about other things? Maybe you could have the character’s microphone go out halfway through the speech and they take the time to pull up a megaphone to get their message out. 
II.The audience response can boost the character up or lower their confidence. It might even alter their speech or perhaps make them not say as much as they want to or the way they wanted to. Rest assured a well delivered one can lift the audience and the speaker. You could use this to segue into major events such as a student’s confrontation with a teacher, an assassination attempt, or the start of a riot.

 
  
 

Part 3

3. What odd scenarios and things happened during their speech?

»A. Did the audience react in a way that the character did not like? Did the character say something they shouldn’t have said? Is the time seem like it’s running by fast?

I. Did people shout negative things like, “Get off the stage!” Maybe they didn’t clap or agree with the character when they said something important. Does the booing grow louder? 
II. Did the character say something that they regret and how did they cover up their regret? How refined is the character with words? Do they possess a silver tongue and know when to excuse themselves from audible mistakes?  
III. Maybe the character does not care what people think and says things left and right like no one’s business, this can make the audience feel very uncomfortable, perhaps people are silent and listen to the character because they’re so surprised by what the character is saying. Is this leading into a moment of questions at the end?
 
  
 

»B. Did someone change the character’s speech? Did the character put away their speech and speak from the heart? Did anyone have anything to say to the character while they were giving the speech?

I. If someone changed the characters speech was it by surprise or did the character already know and are they okay with going through with it? Does the character’s emotions reflect into the speech? Maybe they are so overcome with grief, tears begin to fall. They could be in such a good mood they lift the spirits of those around them. Are they so innocent that a more mature audience begins to realize their foolishness? 
II. If the character decides to improvise, how has it changed from the original speech? Maybe the character misspoke at a couple points and there is a misunderstanding in the audience. Has it made their situation worse? They could have an epiphany mid speech and decide to roll with the changes. Maybe the subplot is dragged into the stage or limelight then this could be a comical moment or a critical reveal in the story.

 
  
 

Part 4

4. How’s the character doing and are they still continuing or did they run off? (Introverted/Nervous Character)

»A. Did the character almost give up, but something gave them the strength to stay. Was it an individual or was it their own doing? This is typically a moment where a student or young person loses the will to finish their message as a result of their nerves being so heightened. Maybe they don’t agree with the message they are saying and they are still conflicted emotionally. A teacher or leader could be forcing them to make the speech. Perhaps this is a corrupt or immoral character?

I. Does the character look for one thing to stay focused? Does this help them for the rest of the speech or only temporarily? Seeing a parent or supporting character at the right moment can calm them down and bring to the whole situation back to reality for them. This is actually a deeper issue amongst those who haven’t found their voice yet. It is about finding their passion and relating it back to others.
II. Maybe the character is so confident in what they have to say that they forget about their nerves. Perhaps the audience don’t even realize how nervous they are because the speech is that good. The message is so clear that even a low volume character that occasionally stutters gets the intended applause anyway!
 
  
 

»B. If the character did not have the willpower to stay during the public speaking then do they make their way back to the stage to where they were giving the speech or do they join in with someone else to give the speech? Perhaps they needed someone else to help them with the speech to give them more power and strength in delivery.

I. What were the character’s thoughts when walking off the stage and how have they drastically changed when coming back to it? Do they steal the mic back from the person that says they are “helping” them? Maybe the character realizes they do not want to be upstaged by this “supporting” character
 
II. Who is their supporter and is their support there physically, mentally, or over technology like a phone? Are they standing off to the side of the stage? Is this person really a distraction to the speaker?
 
  
 

Part 5

5. What happens at the end and how do they exit the stage… Is it gracefully or in a hurry?

»A. Does the character end the speech being proud or feeling worthless?

I. What are their last words and do they say it staring at the audience with heavy eyes or looking down with shame?  
II. Does the character simply not give a crap of what anyone thinks and feel like they said what they needed or do they feel like they need to say more? The audience might think the message is done and start to disperse when the character suddenly adds more. 
III. If they rush off the stage, what is the audience’s reaction? On the surface it might reflect poorly on the person’s performance, but this might during a sudden emergency that the audience is left in the dark about.
 
  
 

»B. How does the audience react and how does the character react to the audience?

I. Do the audience cheer and clap like they’ve never clapped before and does it seem genuine or forced?  
II. Does the character do their own cheering as well and join the audience or do they stand there with the pride and accept the worship?  
III. Maybe the audience reaction does not change the character at all and the characters simply walks off the stage happy that they finish their speech and got the word out.

 
  
 

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