choosing words for a speech – Talking in Public

Tag Archives forchoosing words for a speech

Giving A Bad News Speech

For many of you, giving a speech is not a pleasant experience so how much harder will it be if your speech or presentation has to deliver some bad news? Staff cuts, lower than anticipated financial results, rejection of a project submission or simply a change in ownership, management and structure of an organisation.

Someone has to deliver this information. It has to be done in a professional, focussed message that leaves no doubt about the situation it addresses.

On occasions, it will also have to negate any rumours that have been breeding before the presentation is made.

Where to start?

Keep it simple. Don’t fill the presentation with justification, figures, history or empty assurances.

Stay with the facts, give a timeline if it is for a change in the future.

On every occasion, I found the task simpler when I prepared and practiced the words first. My experience tells me there is no easy way to present bad news – the recipients always seem to know what you are going to say. My advice, therefore, is to be honest, direct and simple in your choice of language.

Bad news needs to be delivered in a speech that is specific and short. As a speech, it can be difficult to prepare because we believe that it can be done without needing to prepare anything in writing.

no more um

It’s true that what we write down will not sound the same as when we read or say it out loud. So in this case, when carrying out your preparation you will need to say out loud what you want to convey first, then write it down before you begin to practice it. A voice recorder on your mobile phone works well for this as it may also give you a written transcript from your recording.

To help you prepare your speech or presentation, answer these content and occasion questions.


  • Why am I making this speech/presentation?
  • What is my main point?
  • Whom do I represent?
  • Who is going to hear it?
  • Do I want the audience to take some action?
  • Is my organization going to take any further action?


  • Why am I making this speech/presentation?
  • Who is the audience for this occasion (particularly important if it is a speech you need to make to many different groups in an organisation)?
  • Have I practiced the speech out loud before committing it to paper?
  • Is my organization going to take action for this particular group?

Yes, you do need to prepare what you want to say so that it is relevant and business like. It doesn’t matter that it is a short speech – it is still a speech.
The bonus from this situation is that when you do it well, the memory of it adds to your confidence.

good news bad news
1 2 3 4