Political Speaking

US Cities 19

If you’re helping a candidate

We’ll be deluged with political speeches during the coming year. Candidates for higher offices (campaign costs north of $100K, for instance) hire professional speech writers and coaches. Often the speech – with gesture and expression cues – appears on teleprompter screens near the TV cameras.

Local-office candidates rely on “do it yourself” measures – including Toastmasters training. Popular Toastmasters are often recruited as speech-writing assistants and coaches.

Unfortunately, speaking is much like wedding photography; everybody who has a mic is an “expert.” If you’re recruited be prepared to be overruled by ill-informed big donors, to be criticized by the candidate’s friends and advisors and to be ignored by the candidate. But you’ll learn a lot, regardless.

Joe Garecht offers help to – especially new — candidates. His article, “Everything You Need to Know about Giving a Great Political Speech” covers the essentials.

“The ability to write and deliver great political speeches is one of the hallmarks of a winning politician.”

He insists that practice makes perfect and demands that candidates practice, then practice in front of a mirror, then in front of a video camera, then in front of family and friends and then in front of campaign personnel. I’d add practicing key speeches, or at least their openings and closings in front of a TM club.

Prepare your speech

“. . . with well-crafted turns of phrase, rousing applause lines, and good research to back up your statements.

“Of course, in politics, you will often be called on to offer remarks ‘off the cuff,’ or to respond to a question while on the campaign trail.  Be prepared.  Have great lines prepared beforehand for most of the key issues in the campaign.”

These correspond to “elevator speeches” in business life. Quick quips, five-to-seven word position statements and one- and three-minute rousing monologues should be in the candidates “immediate recall” purse at all times – even after church services!

When you speak as a candidate, your goal isn’t to get the facts out into the open, and it’s not to deliver some amusing anecdotes, though both of those can be important.  Your goal, as a candidate, is to get people to believe in you.  To do this, you must connect with them, show them you care, and get them to emotionally invest in your candidacy and your campaign… all in 5 or 10 minutes.” (Emphasis mine)

Insure that your – or your candidate’s – speech has an opening to arouse interest and enthusiasm, a clear and concise three-point body, and a conclusion that is a call to action, regardless of length.

Use Toastmasters training to get elected.


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