Any political communication strategy needs a language plan
Any good political communication strategy should include a speech writing plan. Even if your campaign doesn’t expect to make a lot of speeches, make sure you have a speech writing and finalizing process in place. If you are running for office at the local level as well, you will likely want to at least prepare a speech for election night. If you are intimidated by the speech-writing process, don’t panic – you can follow a simple formula to write a good speech.
First, some basic tips for writing a solid speech that fits into your overall political communication strategy:
Tips for writing speeches
Be precise. Do not fear simplicity in your language. The goal is to be understood and not impressed by your audience. Emulate Hemingway – a sentence should not stretch over several lines on paper.
Be brief. No matter who you are, you can bet that if it takes too long, people will lose interest in your speech (this is not a specific reference to Bill Clinton’s State of the Union 2000 address, but it is not a reference either).
Have a clear call to action. What do you want to achieve with this speech? Remember that your language topic is different from the takeaway.
Structure is king. When it comes to writing speeches, there is no such thing as “voice”. A good speech is a function of structure and organization – it has a clear beginning, a clear middle and a clear end.
Don’t tell people how to feel. Write your speech in a way that evokes feelings, but don’t tell people exactly what to feel or how to react to your words. Let them get there by themselves.
Don’t be afraid to disapprove of yourself. Get in touch with the people you talk to. Don’t be afraid to make fun of yourself.
Language formula for your political communication strategy
There are many different approaches to political speech writing, but many people rely on Monroe’s motivated sequence (whether they realize it or not). The five components of the Monroe Sequence can help you develop a compelling argument to communicate just about any question – voting, donating, volunteering, supporting a policy, whatever you call it.
While this is the standard sequence used in political speeches, feel free to play around with the order of the steps. Remember, each of these steps will ultimately help you prove a point. Don’t be afraid to break minor grammar rules either. Writing for the ear is different from writing for the eye. If you were to speak in the same style as most great writings, you would likely sound a little aloof or robotic to your audience. Make sure you read what you write aloud to make sure it pleases your ears.
1. Attention: Attract the audience at the beginning of your speech. There is often a need to welcome people and instantly thank certain members of your audience, but try to keep this part short. Instead, focus on getting your listeners involved. An attention grabber can be anything from a brief personal anecdote to a rhetorical question. It allows the audience to connect with you and engage with the rest of the speech.
2. Necessity: The “demand step” could also be referred to as the “problem step”. This is where your reasoning really starts. In the context of a political communication strategy, the “need step” is often used to outline how a particular elected official or policy is not doing the best job. At this stage of the speech, you want to invite the audience to question the status quo and imagine a better future.
3. Satisfaction: Satisfaction comes when you provide a solution to a problem outlined in the “Needs Step”. You want to allay the audience’s fears by sharing how to get rid of the problem in order to improve their life. The problem is that small businesses in the district are struggling? Submit your plan to strengthen the local economy.
4. Visualization: Ask your audience to imagine what their life would be like if your proposed solution (e.g. your choice) came about. Paint a clear picture that the audience can grasp tangibly – what will change for them with the vision you were floating in?
5th action: Ask your audience to actually do something about the problem in order to achieve your solution. In a political communication strategy, this often means asking for a vote or a campaign contribution. The most strategic steps are clear and simple. You want the audience to understand exactly what they can do to help and then feel compelled to do so. The action step should be clear and summarize the purpose of your speech. Don’t have multiple actions / questions – your audience will feel overwhelmed and walk away without a clear sense of what to do next.
Do you have any further questions about building a political communication strategy? Read our ultimate guide to writing a blunt speech.