How To write a Political Speech

September 13, 2017 - 8 minutes read

The political speech is a form of art. It may be easy to deliver one but it is tricky to get it right. It does not come with political expertise and it does not come with experience. Even seasoned politicians go through entire terms without a single notable speech.

A handle on what makes a great speech could be your greatest asset. You’d be making a lot of speeches – during the campaign, after taking office and throughout your term.

Whatever be the occasion, knowing the key elements of a fine political speech would put you strides ahead of any opponent. However, the speech is not for your opponent. It is meant for your voters. Even for a great speech, the takeaway for the voter would only be a single soundbite. That is a mere 8 – 10-second excerpt out of the entire speech. That soundbite should trigger the voter’s emotional response to support you.

Knowing the elements that make a great political speech ensures that you leave the voter with something memorable. Here are 10 major points to keep in mind when you write your next one.

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A conversational start

The way you start off makes or breaks the mood for the rest of the speech. It should be something one would say in a conversation. So avoid a grandiose tone or statement at the outset. If it sounds cheesy, you risk losing the voter’s interest. Find something natural to say which holds meaning to the voters. The listener should not get the impression that it is a rehearsed piece of text.

Tap to their emotional beat

Sounds cheesy?

Well, you are not there on stage to sound drab. Let out some high touching lines when the audience is hooked. Get them going with something that prompts applause. It is, however, not about creating high energy throughout. There should be ample room for dramatic moments where the listener gets to reflect upon what you just said.

Suit the candidate’s voice

Candidates don’t often write their own speeches. The writer should know the candidate’s mannerism and how they talk before writing the speech. Adapt the content to their style of delivery. That means paying attention to their tone, tenor, regional accent and minor idiosyncrasies as they speak. If the speech is made for a specific audience, it is good to take note of local colloquialisms as well.

Tell personal stories

Stories always help in getting people to relate to what you say. So tell them about what influences you to do the things you do. Talk about tough times that shows you understand the voter’s situation. A well-placed story in a speech could win back the attention of the voter.

Build up as you talk

Every speech you deliver would have a central idea. You have to build up toward that idea through every anecdote and statistic you share. The audience’s mind tends to wander as well. The use of repetitions will enforce an idea in their mind in case they missed it the first time.

Get to the core message

Remember when we mentioned that the takeaway for the listener is one short soundbite? You want that soundbite to be the core message of the speech.

Timing the message so that it hits the audience at the peak of their interest is crucial for a successful speech. Once you’ve hooked their attention, get to the core message. It should be concise and connected to the campaign theme.

A problem before a solution

Every member of the audience knows you are delivering the speech to advance your agenda. They would expect you to make promises to improve their lives.

Your speech has to make the problem evident before proposing your solution. Tie it to the lives of the audience as a real-world problem. Only then should you present the solution you’d work toward.

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Face their issues

The audience would only trust that you care about solving the problem if you appear to understand their issues. Your speech has to make them realize that you are no different from them.

You can do that by showing that you share common issues so you can relate to them personally. The voter is likely to support someone who has the same hopes and dreams as they do.

Humor the opponent

In a campaign speech, it is difficult to avoid mention of the opponent. The voter and the media will draw a contrast between the candidates even if you do not address the opposition.

So your take on the opponent has to be better than the opponent’s take on you. Humor is a good approach here. It shows your confidence that you know you are a better choice.

End on a serious note

The aim is to keep the listener interested throughout, so it’s okay to be funny. When you present the problem and the solution, the speech could use a tone of humor so it does not appear as dull policy-pushing.

However, at the end when you reiterate the main points, keep a serious note. You have to leave the audience thinking.

These 10 points should be taken into account when you draft your next political speech. Let’s look at them one more time.

  • A conversational start
  • Tap to their emotional beat
  • Suit the speaker’s voice
  • Share personal stories
  • Build up as you talk
  • Get to the core message
  • A problem before a solution
  • Face the same issues
  • Humor the opponent
  • End on a serious note

Paying attention to these will help you create a speech that can keep the audience hooked all through. A fine speech will give you a leg up in the race no event or funds can match.

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