Compelling stories make memorable speeches

Speechwriting experts say facts, characters are OK, but the most engaging presentations feature conflict, drama, humor.

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A speechwriter’s goal is to provide a memorable script that creates a connection between the speaker and the audience that resonates long after the speech is over.

The best way to do that? Tell a story.

“Stories are what we pay attention to,” said Vinca LaFleur, a partner at West Wing Writers, a speechwriting and communications strategy firm in Washington, D.C. “Stories are what we remember, so much so that sometimes we want to, and are able to, retell them long after the fact, which is wonderful if you are a communicator and you are trying to spread your message far and wide.”

It is the use of a story, not an abundance of facts or the quality of the delivery, that makes a lasting impression, LaFleur said in this Ragan Training session, The power of storytelling: What you can learn from executive speechwriters. She was joined by Rod Thorn, senior director of communications at PepsiCo, and Michael Long, director of writing for the master’s program in public relations and corporate communications at Georgetown University.

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