Writing a president's speech requires a few key ingredients that will convey a presidential tone. Although this article will take you through the real steps of how to write a president's speech, it will also poke a little fun at some of the tactics used by famous presidents. Examples are included in each step which will help you write your own presiden't speech.
Figure out who your audience is. Thinking that everybody is your audience is not specific enough even if everyone in the world will be listening. If you look at presidential campaign speeches made to particular special interest groups, you'll notice that the words and phrases are tailored to appeal to that group of people. (See resources for links to real preidential speeches.) For example: if your audience is a group of teachers, you might start with a quote about teaching, or a short story about a teacher who inspired you as a child.
Write out an outline of talking points. A president always has an agenda. Certain points must be conveyed clearly to the group they are speaking to. For example, in the speech to teachers, you might have the following talking points for your president's speech:
- acknowledge the struggles teachers have had with getting sufficient salaries
- let them know that you are on their side and agree that their pay is insufficient
- tell them the main five elements of your plan to increase teacher salaries by 2013 by %15
Sprinkle your speech with power words. Notice the difference between these two sentences: We must get teachers the pay rates that are due to them. We must get teachers the honor that they deserve and realize that that honor means a possibility for prosperity and wealth. Notice how unmemorable the first sentence was. When the words 'prosperity,' 'honor' and 'wealth' were added, emotional reactions were created. Power words make a speech portray power (naturally), conviction and honesty. (See resources for more about power words.)
Use the word 'comprehensive' in your president's speech. This is where the steps get a little tongue-in-cheek. However, if you take a look at recent presidential speeches, or even just at political speeches in general, you will see comprehensive pop up repeatedly. For example: We have a comprehensive plan to have all troops out of Iraq by 2012. Or - By using a comprehensive strategy, we will achieve victory in our effort to reward public school teachers for their monumental calling in life. It appears that comprehensive is supposed to convince listeners that a lot of work and detail have gone into whatever plan or agenda a president is proposing.
Humanize yourself. People want to look up to their president, but they also want to relate to them. Sprinkle a story or two into your speech that relates in some way to your agenda. This was touched upon briefly in step one, but that was for your speech opening. Throughout the body of your president's speech (depending on its length), you want a couple of anecdotes which show the listeners that you are like them. For example: I met a teacher recently who couldn't afford to send her oldest son to college. Or, I broke my leg on the playground when I was in elementary school - I remember when a teacher from another grade level came to help - thinking 'is there anything that teachers aren't required to help students with?' So again, any story that personally relates you to your audience on an emotional level, will make your speech sound presidential. Keep in mind, however, that you don't want to convey too much weakness. The broken leg story above has enough humanity in it, but doesn't imply a lifelong weakness or illness which presidents are often prone to bury.
Don't apologize in your speech unless that's what your speech is truly about. Even though the public sometimes seems like they want their president to apologize, as a president, it's a last resort. Apologies show mistakes and mistakes show weakness. Implying that a mistake was made is much more presidential (again, a litte cheekiness). For example: We committed to our comprehenisve strategy and unfortunately, unforseen complications arose... is better than... We failed in our plan because didn't think of all the possible outcomes.