1. The "it" refers to the entire speech. It doesn't matter what you stuff it with (put in the middle) because a strong beginning and a strong ending are a that do matter. At least, according to this advice, which I don't agree with myself.
2. I think pitfalls needs to be plural, but basically, his life will have difficulties and struggles with alcohol (possiby alcoholism).
[a writer, not a teacher]
Student or Learner