Winners Announced

Speech Writing Competition 2016

Oration — Be heard

* This competition is now closed but you are welcome to read through the published writing and blog posts. * 

Who said these words? For most of us, dear writers, at least one of these famous lines rings like a familiar bell, reverberating across time and space:
  1.  I have a dream.
  2. It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens.
  3. I raise up my voice—not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.
  4. A democratic and free society… is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
  5. We take our stand for freedom.
Powerful words like these are burned into our collective memory—catalyzing social change, inspiring movements and sparking courage. Words that are written to be spoken are charged with a particular power—crafted to come alive when delivered to an audience. This month, dear writers, compose a speech of your own, or write a speech for a leader past or present.
(Are you writing a speech for a public figure? Then step into his or her shoes and ask/answer these same questions!)
Begin with a purpose. Before you start writing, ask yourself what it is you really want to communicate. What do you feel passionate about? What cause or position do you hope others will join you in spreading? What is the message you hope to convey, and why is it so important?
Identify your audience. Who are you speaking to? What you say in your speech will vary depending on whether your listeners are familiar with the topic, and aligned with your purpose already or fiercely against it.
Be human. Your audience wants to connect with you, personally, and understand why the subject at hand is important to you. Consider telling a story, or sharing experiences and emotions that reflect your connection to the topic.
Write the way you talk. Your speech need not be composed of perfect grammar and complete sentences. Your audience wants to hear your voice ring true.
Consider literary devices. Remember that all your favorite elements of creative writing are still in your toolbox, so use them! Great speech writers rely on devices such as alliteration and metaphor to make their words all the more memorable.
Consider Repetition. Because your audience is hearing your words instead of reading them, repetition can serve as a powerful reminder of your take-home message. Write with rhythm that catches the ear.
Read aloud… often. Words sound different when spoken aloud. Make sure to read your speech aloud as you draft and revise.
Start with a bang. We’ve all zoned out when listening to a hum-drum public speaker. Pique the interest of your audience early with a thought-provoking statement, anecdote, or question.
Close with a fresh idea. Rather than repeating your main point, end your speech with a bang—rev up your listeners with a call-to-action or a new idea that inspires them to join the cause.
Read aloud… again. Make sure to read that final draft aloud, practicing with pauses, emphasis, and body language.

This month, we'll award a prize for the best spoken delivery as well as one for the best written speech. If you’d like to create an audio/video version, you may use any platform of your choice—simply copy the link within the text of your submission. Some options to consider:
·       Adobe Spark
·       You Tube
·       Vimeo
·       Other
Please note that these are public platforms and are not affiliated with WtW. If you need assistance getting started, please contact
400-1,000 words      
Donovan Livingston    
Prizes: The winning entrants will receive $100, and the runner-up (for written speech) and best peer-reviewer will receive $50.      
Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.      
Expert Review: Submit your draft and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.      
  1. Martin Luther King Jr.: August 28th, 1963
  2. Malala Yousafzai: July 12 2013
  3. Nelson Mandela: April 20, 1964
  4. Susan B. Anthony: 1873
  5. Winston Churchill:  October 5, 1938


Meet the Winners of Our Speech Writing Competition

November 19, 2016

This week we’re pleased to feature two of the winners of our Speech Writing Competition, Caroline from the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. and Somerset who hails from Scotland, U.K. In his commentary on Caroline’s piece, Guest Judge Donovan Livingston shared that he was impressed with her ability to “[inspire] the audience to reimagine the way they envision climate change.” In our interview with Caroline, she elaborates further on some of the key messages she hopes readers will take away from her speech.

Read Here

Speech Writing Winners Announced

October 28, 2016

In our October Speech Writing Competition, young writers spoke ardently about everything from the perils of bullying to the effects of climate change. Today, on the blog, Guest Judge Donovan Livingston–who cemented a space in speech writing history with his viral Harvard commencement address–shares which of these impassioned speeches resonated with him most.

Go to the WTW BLOG

Guest Judge Donovan Livingston on How to Write an Impactful Speech

October 14, 2016

This past May, Donovan Livingston delivered one of the most talked about commencement speeches in recent history. His piece, “Lift Off”, written in the form of a spoken word poem, encouraged his fellow Harvard Graduate School of Education classmates to be the best version of themselves in the face of doubt and adversity. Since then, Livingston’s piece has gone viral and has inspired students all over the world. This week, we’re pleased to share Donovan’s tips for conquering our October Speech Writing Competition. Donovan offers advice on how to write persuasively, tips on how to enhance delivery, and his thoughts on how writing from your own life experiences is the key to connecting with your audience in an impactful way.

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