How and why to craft speeches based around emotion

Including the importance of a villain.

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The importance of emotion in speeches

At their best, they can be soaring oration that change hearts, stick in minds and impact the world.

Which they are depends in some measure on the person delivering it. But even the best orator on the planet can’t turn a dry speech into a masterpiece. Good speeches begin at the writing table, but the very best speeches begin with a story.

During Ragan’s recent Public Affairs & Speechwriting Virtual Conference, Michael Ricci, former speechwriter and director of communications for House Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan, and Nick Lanyi, media relations and crisis communications expert for RCG, explored how to use speechwriting to project optimism and stability in even the most difficult times. The keys are in emotion, empathy and storytelling.

“Just the insecurity, the stress of everything going on in the world requires some empathy,,” Lanyi said. “But it can’t be faked, it’s got to be there. Sometimes words alone will be helpful, but you want to encourage your principal to be able to convey that.”

Why storytelling matters

Speechwriting, Lanyi notes, is a unique form of communication. People can’t follow along with what you’re saying in real-time. They can’t rewind or re-read. They have to be in the moment.

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