8 tips every speechwriter must know

Quote unusual sources, create suspense, and do yourself a big favor—don’t ignore the squirrel.

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Speechwriting is a highly specialized craft with a unique set of demands and quirks. Fortunately, it’s also tremendously rewarding—monetarily, sure, but also through the potential to change people’s minds and move them to action.

Here are eight tips that every speechwriter must know:

1. Tell a story

If you want to upgrade your speechwriting skills, the best and simplest tip I have is this: Tell a story.

So many speeches are like grocery lists of the points you need to make, the facts you need to convey, and the ideas your client wants to advance. But there’s a reason you have to write down grocery lists. If you didn’t, they would be impossible to remember. If all you’re doing is firing off data in your speech, your audience won’t have a lot of luck remembering what you say, either.

Although we aren’t all that great at remembering streams of data, we are superb at remembering structure—particularly the structure of a story.

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