How Long Does It Take To Write A Speech? [The Epic Response]

Before delivering a speech, one must first go through the process of writing and revising. For experienced speakers, this only takes a few minutes, but for neophytes, this would probably take more than an hour or even more than a day. But can we really accurately measure how long it takes to write a speech?

As a general rule, there is no exact timeframe as to how long it takes to write a speech because there are several variables that come into play. Some of these factors include the availability of time, occasion, research period, writing speed, and revisions.

Alongside these factors, the structure of the speech also impacts a speaker's writing speed. If you want to learn more about this, I've got you covered! I have also thrown in a few pieces of advice on how to speed up your writing, so keep on reading.

How long does it take to write a speech?

woman writes in speech cloud

We cannot identify exactly how long it takes to write a speech because there are several factors that come into play. But we can assume that experienced speakers would take no more than an hour to write a short speech, while a newbie speaker would probably need more guidance and write more slowly.

There's also the possibility that the speech will take longer to write because the subject is too technical.

Some professionals also claim that the shorter the speech, the longer it takes to write it. I know this is ironic, but for most people, it is actually true. 

For instance, that 23-minute speech of Taylor Swift at New York University's 2022 commencement exercises probably took her more than a day to write. That's because every line of her speech should really make an impact. Not to mention, the whole world is watching. She has to get her point across in that span of time.

Imagine writing a 5-minute speech that can encourage the listeners to do something or change their behavior. You need to put a lot of thinking, writing, and revising before you can say, "This is it. It's final."

The general idea here is that you can expect that you'll spend more time writing than the actual delivery of your speech. The same rule applies if you are writing a speech for someone else.

Factors that affect the length of time you write a speech

As mentioned repeatedly in this article, there are several factors or variables that can affect the length of time you need to write your speech. For some, their writing speed is affected by only one of these, but for many, it's a combination of several factors.

Speech length

Prior to writing your speech, your organizer will tell you how long it should be according to the length of time. Say, you were asked to deliver a speech for five minutes while another is tasked to make a 30-minute speech. The time you'll spend on writing will be relatively shorter than the one who needs to speak for 30 minutes. 

But then again, if the 5-minute speech is really crucial, you would have to spend more time packing all the things you want to say in a short span of time. This means more revisions and more research time for you.

The occasion

If the event you are asked to deliver a speech to has limited time, then you would only need to write a short speech, therefore, shorter writing time. One good example is a birthday party of a loved one. You don't want to be that guest who speaks too much and bores the crowd. 

Research & knowledge about the topic

If the topic of your speech is really complex or you haven't given a speech about that before, then your writing time will include researching time. Often research time takes an hour or more, especially if you need to make sure that everything is accurate.

If the research is already done for you by the organizer (which rarely happens), or they have given you some information to include in your speech, then you won't spend that much time writing.

Writing speed

Each individual has their own writing speed. Even if the research has been done, the time spent on writing will still vary because some of us are really good at weaving words, while some aren't.

Say, for instance, a professional SEO writer who was asked to deliver a speech in a writing camp. Since the job of an SEO writer is to create meaningful content at a given time, he can easily spin a speech as compared to those who don't have a background in writing.

Another thing to note is that some arrange their thoughts faster than others, hence the difference in writing speed.

Command over the language

If you are a non-native speaker of the language, it would really take time to write a speech devoid of errors— be it grammatical, cultural, political, etc. But if you are writing in your first language where you can easily express your thoughts, then you would be faster.

Check out these 5 tips for folks who are non-native English speakers.

Experience as a speaker

People who have been invited by many companies or institutions to speak have a lot of advantages because they already know what structure to use in their speech, what jokes to make, or how to deal with a hostile audience. 

If, for instance, you are always invited to talk about a certain topic because you're an expert at it, you can also reuse the same speech, saving you a lot of writing time!

Revisions

The first draft of your speech will go through so many revisions, especially if you ask others to look into it. That means that the initial writing time you spent on your speech would probably double when you revise.

Also, as you go along and do more research, you find more info that is suitable to include or remove from your speech.

Speaking rate

Your speaking rate can help you calculate the number of words you can say for the given speech duration. This means that the faster you speak, the lengthier the speech you need to make. Of course, the lengthier it is, the more time you need to spend writing.

Make sure that your speaking rate is not too fast and that your words are already intelligible. The ideal speed is slightly slower than that of a native speaker. For instance, if an English native speaker says 150 words per minute, you should only say 140 words.

The adjustments you make in your speaking rate also impacts your writing time.

Visuals

Another thing to factor in is the visual aid you're going to use. If you are going to play a 1-minute video, then deduct it from the length of speech you are writing. The same goes for a slide presentation. Calculate the time you'll show the slide and make adjustments to the length of your speech according to it.

How do you write a speech quickly?

An Asian woman writing a speech

Most people struggle in writing a speech, especially if there is a time constraint. To help you write a great speech quickly, follow these tips!

1. Find a quiet room and get rid of any distractions

Before writing your speech, you need a clear head to think. You can only do this if you are free from distractions; thus, go to the quietest room in your house, and turn off your phone or social media notifications if you plan to use them for research.

2. Calculate the word count based on your time limit

If you already know the exact number of words you are writing, then you won't over exceed and tire yourself off of writing. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you calculate the words you need to write or how long it will take to deliver the speech you've written, like Debatrix. Also, tools like Jasper Ai, will actually write your speech for you using artificial Intelligence Technology. The best part is they have a free trial!

What Is Jasper AI

A good tip is to copy-paste random text on the web and paste it into the tool. Make adjustments according to the number of minutes. In the end, you'll get the target word count.

3. Ask yourself the core questions

These core questions are:

  • Who is the audience of your speech?
  • What is your goal?
  • Why were you the one invited to speak?

Once you have answered this in your mind, the structure of your speech can be easily made.

4. Think of the main message you want to get across

You cannot expect your audience to have 20 takeaways from your speech. As such, you need to have one main goal. Everything you should say in your speech should revolve, reinforce, or achieve your main goal. This also prevents you from writing too much non-related stuff and saves you so much time.

5. Make a draft using bullet points

Who doesn't love using bullet points! You can use them for anything, but especially for writing your speech. Using bullets can help you identify your key points easily, making the writing process more organized and structured.

6. Write an impactful first and last sentence

The first and last sentences can make or break your speech. Thus, you should write them first. This also helps you map your thoughts, especially when you write the final sentence. As they always say, begin with an end in mind. Remember this when writing.

7. Make the speech simple

After you've made your intro and end sentence as well as your bullets, it's time to fill your speech with informative (but not boring) content. In doing so, make sure that it is simple. You are catering to the ears, and not to the eyes. Make sure that your audience won't need a dictionary to interpret you.

Best speech structure if you have limited time

A man in a coffee shop writing in a notebook

In connection to the tips in writing a speech fast that I shared above, there is a structure that really works if you have limited time writing or drafting a speech. It's the classic introduction–main message–takeaway technique.

  • Introduction: The introduction of your speech should hook your audience's attention, especially in a formal setting. But if you are delivering a speech at a wedding, the introduction can be fun and should establish your connection to the couple.
  • Main message: For the main message of your speech, state a max of three to four ideas. Do not ramble as this will make the speech longer. Also, do make use of funny anecdotes if it is an informal setting.
  • Takeaway: Here's when you wrap up your speech. In writing this, think of what you want the audience to remember about you when they leave the room. Again, this would depend on whether you are in a formal setting or not.

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to write a 5-minute speech?

If a speaker speaks around 120 to 160 words per second, that would mean he needs to say 600 to 800 words for a 5-minute speech. This length can be written in less than an hour or two, depending on the complexity of the topic.

How long does it take to write a 10-minute speech?

A 10-minute speech would roughly be around 1,200 to 1,600 words on paper. If the speaker has already done the research, he would finish writing the speech in three to four hours or less.

How do you write a 30-minute speech?

A 30-minute speech is quite lengthy. But it is still best to use the introduction–main point–takeaway structure so the speaker won't go off-topic. Also, if the event allows using a slide presentation, this can serve as a visual aid, so the actual speaking time is not exactly 30 minutes.

Key takeaways

Although it is impossible to exactly estimate the time you'll need in writing a speech, being an expert at the topic or being invited to speak all the time can help you write fast. On another note, learning about the variables that may affect your writing speed such as speech length, research time, and speaking rate can help you be more organized. 

If you're really struggling to write your speech, don't be afraid to ask for help. That way, you're also gaining insights on what others want to hear.

For more resources to develop your speaking skills while you are in the comforts of your own home, please check the articles Online Resources for Public Speaking and Where Can I Learn Public Speaking. If you would like to leverage the best presentation software for your next big speaking engagement, please read the article 'Best Presentation Technology tools'.


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Posted in  Public Speaking Topics   on  May 24, 2022 by  Dan W ,   How Long Does It Take To Write A Speech? [The Epic Response]

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