How to Write a Political Speech: Screenwriting about Politics

Get into the World of Politics

Many politicians don’t write their own speeches, preferring to delegate the task to a dedicated speechwriter. Big politicians might even have teams of them. Speech writing in politics is a difficult art, and it’s not for everyone. A good speech has to optimistically appeal to all the right constituencies, avoid unintended controversy, yet be provocative and eloquent enough to make the news, all while catering to a middle school reading level. Since the job is also very competitive, it isn’t enough simply to be good at it. You also need to make friends and work your way in.

Political speech writing is a niche industry. To make it as a speechwriter, you have to get politically involved. This means doing a whole lot of volunteering at first. Register with your local political party chapter and help out. Join political campaigns and volunteer with them too. Assist with elections. Get involved in the later stages of elections, such as caucuses and conventions. Overall, aim to attach yourself to a specific politician in hopes of eventually getting a paid staff job. A complement to volunteering at political activities is to join a political nonprofit or activist organization that works on issues you care about. These groups have frequent contact with the politicians who represent them as well as with ideologically friendly politicians, which can provide a means for you to work with those politicians’ staff. Many people eventually parlay that personal familiarity into a paid political job.

Politicians are much likelier to hire a writer with an extensive body of political writing publicly available to scrutinize, such as on a blog or website. Long before you try to get a political speech-writing job, hone your writing and work on building an audience. If you can show that your writing resonates with people, that makes you much likelier to eventually get a speech-writing job.

Get to the Point — Quick!

You can’t start a speech until you are sure of your central point — the idea you need the audience to remember, even if they remember nothing else.  First, your theme should be simple enough that it can be expressed in one sentence. There are really only a few ideas an audience is going to grasp and remember. People have done research on how much people remember from a speech, and it’s amazingly little. You know, in a speech people can’t look back if they miss something like they can in a book.  And you always want to know what your bite is, your sound bite. It should be snappy but clearly connected to your central idea, not just an unrelated one-liner.

Make it Look Easy

After deciding on a theme, you have to consider the tone of your speech. Every step of the way,  you must remember that what you’re writing will be read aloud, not on a page. A speech must be appropriate for the size and location of your audience, as well as for its familiarity with your topic. Also, successful speeches have a conversational tone, in the hope that people will almost forget that what they’re hearing is a prepared text. Always remember you’re writing a speech, not an essay. Your points have to be clearer and your sentences have to be shorter because people can understand a lot more complex things when they’re reading than when they’re listening.

Write as people talk.

Now you know what you want to say and how you want to say it. But how should your speech begin? The opening lines of a speech are critical to its success, You always want to establish some kind of rapport with the audience first. You want to establish upfront this connection, so they will continue to listen to you. Your first opportunity is with the acknowledgments, to establish a rapport with the people who are in the front of the audience. The next thing you usually do is tell a few jokes.

That’s the standard, and usually, the best way to do it 

it doesn’t much matter what you say. Try to make audiences identify and sympathize with a speaker early on in a speech, so they’ll want to hear what he or she has to say. One of the best ways to do this is to tell stories or anecdotes that illustrate a topic, or show that the topic is something that could have a real effect on the audience. It’s not enough to provide a bunch of statistics to prove that something is true. People need anecdotal material, stories, to make a point.

Make it emotionally compelling somehow

Now you’ve reached the heart of your speech. you should keep things simple and make sure to tell your audience what you’re going to say before you say it, so they won’t miss your point. For example, if you’re trying to get people to agree with your solution to a problem, make sure you tell them why the problem is so serious. When you start in with what you’re talking about, you usually try to limit it to two or three points under the main topic. the classic structure is “problem-solution.” You say, “Here’s a problem, here’s why things are terrible,” and in the second part, “Here’s what we can do to make things better.” In the problem section, you have to be strong — to alarm people, and to show you understand it’s a real problem, as they do, and so your solution will make sense to them.

And usually between points two and three you want to put in some more jokes, so there isn’t this thud in the middle of the speech, boring everybody to tears because it’s all policy. Then you come to the end and try briefly to reiterate what you’ve just said. It’s inappropriate to do jokes there. You want to leave it with serious thought, and then say your goodbyes.

Elements of Style

“Be specific about what your role is in dealing with the subject you’re discussing, who you are speaking to, and where the speech is being given, One word can paint an entire picture. The work of word selection is the work of relating to your audience and evoking powerful imagery in their minds.”

The best speeches are texts that are beautiful to both hear and read. A surprisingly effective measure towards this end is to read the speech aloud in the process of writing. If it sounds natural, you are on the right path. Speakers do not always write their own speeches. If that is the case, a speechwriter should be aware of the speaker’s mannerisms and how they talk and play to their strengths. more than any other element of style is self-evident. If the speaker can take an audience on an emotional journey, orchestrating their highs and lows, then the work is half done.

The Core Message

Time it so that the message hits the audience at the peak of their interest. Once hooked, the audience will open themselves up to what you have to say. Speaking of events in your life, or in the lives of others: loved ones, constituents, or people you look up to, can lay the tone of your speech and set the stage to relay a greater message. A well-placed anecdote should help people relate to the speaker. Tell the audience what influences you to do the things you do. Talk about tough times that show you understand a voter’s circumstances or a grieving loved one’s pain.

Elements of Impact

Ethos: The credibility of the speaker as perceived by the audience. Pathos: The emotional connections you make with the audience.Logos: The sound logical argument brought forth in your speech. By having your audience buy into your speaker, their conviction, and their argument, you can leave a lasting impact. We can see ethos, pathos, and logos at work in the elements of style and substance as well. Every speech should steer toward the central idea that serves as its backbone. Build up toward that idea through every anecdote or statistic you share. The audience’s mind may wander. The use of repetitions will enforce your idea in their minds. Do you have a burning desire to change the world or reshape the political landscape?

“A career as an author may win you fame and fortune, or it may be a labor of love that earns you little money in the short term. Whether or not you are successful right away, you can increase your long-term odds of success by being tenacious and persistent, and treating your career as an ongoing endeavor made up of incremental successes coupled with difficult but valuable lessons.” Focus on your craft, and build your skill through persistence and hard work, Keep writing whether or not your initial endeavors are successful.

VIJAY MANGUKIYA

 

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