3 important speechwriting techniques to learn from pop songs

We can learn a lot from the world’s top songwriters. They know how to create memorable 3 or 4-minute songs that we can sing along to after the first listen. Here are just three examples we can use to write great speeches. Look out for more in other blog posts.

  1. Grab the audience’s attention with a memorable intro

Pop writers, sometimes, only have a few seconds to pique our interest before we hit the “next” button. They do this with catchy or dramatic music or an emotional first few words. How can you spice up your own introduction before the audience switches off? For a few ideas, see the blog post***5 tips for opening your speech*** – insert link. I like to use the example of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” (everyone knows it!) That song opens with the creaking of a coffin and a werewolf howling. Dramatic, it’s true, but as soon as you hear that intro, you know which song it’s from.

  1. Signpost where you’re going, early in the speech

Your audience needs you to give them a mini summary before you launch into the body of the speech. This is called a signpost. Most people have heard the expression: Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em. Tell ‘em. Then tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em!

The signpost is when you tell’ em what you’re going to tell’ em. Your audience wants to be sure you know your stuff, and you’re not wasting their time. A signpost gives them the assurance that you’ve done your homework. It helps them relax and enjoy what you have to say. Also, your signpost gives the audience a sense of anticipation and excitement about where your speech might go.

The same song “Thriller” uses the intro as a signpost, as well as an attention grabber. We know from the sound effects that it’s a novelty song with a scary/supernatural flavour.

  1. Include a ‘hook’ line in your speech

In pop songs, a hook is a little bit of music or a lyric that repeats throughout the song and makes it catchy. Top hits are often loaded with hooks. It might be a guitar riff or a line from the song’s chorus.

Speech writers can add hooks to their speeches too. These are lines you repeat 3, 4, or even more times during the talk. Sometimes, they’re called a ‘throughline”. Make your throughline a phrase you want the audience to remember. The more often you repeat it, the more memorable it will be.


So, there we have it- three simple tips from the world’s top songwriters. They’re easy to apply to your speech, so no excuses. Make your speech juicy and easy to remember, and your audience will remember you!

Want to learn more about speech writing? download our fabulous public speaking guides or get in touch with Shola