Category: Candidate Training

Tips for Giving a Winning Speech

An opportunity to speak to a large crowd is too good to pass up. But just writing a good speech and memorizing it or reading it properly is not enough. You need to command attention, engage the crowd and demand action.

Reading or memorizing a speech usually results in a mechanical delivery… one word after the other with little meaning behind it. You sound bored, so your audience will be bored, too.

Think about how you speak when you talk off the cuff with a group of friends. You’re natural and enthusiastic and you can roll with the punches. You know your subject matter and you sound confident and trustworthy.

To avoid a dry performance, use a few notes. Once you’ve crafted your speech, break it into main parts. What is your central argument? It might look like this…

Introduce myself.

Why am I here, what is the problem?

What have others done to solve it?

Why isn’t that enough?

Why I can do a better job of solving it.

What I want you to do next.

Then you can trim that down to heading notes, such as…




Bad results

My solution


For some of you, these six entries on a card can help you give your speech in the proper order and keep things organized. But if you have specific points you want to raise that you might not have committed to memory, you can expand each topic to make sure you cover everything.


Where I was born and raised.

Where I went to school, my military service, and my career.

This can be distilled down to “born, raised, school, military, career


Our country is in crisis.

The debt is too high, employment is too low, regulations stifle jobs, our leaders break their promises.

This can be distilled to “crisis, debt, employment, regulations, promises.

Continue on with your other sections.


If there are particular statistics or quotes you will be using, include them there, along with any special phrases you don’t already have committed to memory.

Talking from notes will allow you to be conversational, you can look around at the crowd as you speak, and people will be impressed with your command of the issues.


But good delivery is not your only challenge. You need to deal with the other party to your speech, your audience.

Have you ever thought about the phrase “pay attention?” It’s actually an unwritten contract between a speaker and his audience.

He agrees to offer them something of value – in this case, an interesting and well-delivered speech on an important topic – in exchange for the crowd “paying” with their attention. This means listening to what’s said, and not chatting with the people next to them, or checking their cell phones.

So make sure  what you’re going to say is of value to the audience. Does it relate to their lives? Is it useful information that will help them?

You might tell them the benefit of listening to you. “I’m going to tell you how you can get even with career politicians who let you down.”

This is why you need to know your audience before you write your speech. You need to tailor your message to each group, even if your overall message/theme is used everywhere.


So you know your audience, you’ve crafted a good speech and you’ll be talking using notes. Once you get to the stage, don’t just start talking.

Take control of the crowd.

Wait for them to quiet down before you talk. Just stare at those who are still talking. Those who want to hear what you have to say will give them a nudge and tell them to quiet down so you can start. If background talking starts up again, stop what you’re saying and wait until it quiets down again. You’ll only have to do this once – as long as you continue to deliver value within your speech.

If you’re not sure of where your audience stands, feel free to start with some “show of hands” questions. “How many of you are mad as hell about how Washington spends your money?” Note: Always ask a question that will result in lots of hands raised. Not something like “How many of you are happy with Washington spending?” The common raising of hands unifies the audience and gives social validation to what you’re going to speak about.

Find areas where 80% of the crowd can agree. “How many of you believe in strong families?” “How many of you want to pass on a better America to your children?”

Now you have their attention, you’ve shown you’re interested in what your audience has to say, you’ve set a standard for listening discipline, and you’ve unified your audience.


There are two more things to do – make a personal emotional connection and make them remember you.

The good news is that there’s an easy way to do both – tell a story.

Humans are hard-wired to connect emotionally and remember things from stories. Facts are useful, and they can help solidify an important point in your speech, but facts don’t affect emotions and they are hard to remember.

So come up with a series of (hopefully true) stories that carry your message. If your big message is about wasteful spending, then come up with a story about how you felt when your family didn’t have enough money to pay their bills, and what you did to fix it. Or talk about what emotional things happened the day you decided to run for office. You could talk about the problems facing someone you met, or who worked for you.

Then explain why this story is important to you and what you plan to do about it.

You also want them to remember your name. If they don’t, they won’t know who to vote for or which website to visit. So mention your name at the beginning, middle and end. Make sure you say it slowly and clearly. You might need to add a trick to help them remember it better. Be creative and entertaining, but not silly. “My name is Charles Dunn, and I’m DONE with paying taxes that are too high!”

At the end of your speech, always make a call to action. They like you, they’ve made an emotional connection, you are coming across as credible, or even as an expert, so now they want to follow up with some action to help you. You have many options, but try to limit the number. You might ask them to volunteer to help your campaign by going over to the table at the front door, or make a donation, or visit your website, or vote for you in the upcoming election.


The rhythm of a speech.

Every speech has a rhythm or a flow. You might start out softly with very valuable information to quiet the audience. Or you might start out loud to energize everyone.

Applause is a very important part of a speech. It is the audience’s way to show they are getting value for the attention they’ve paid to you. It gives social affirmation – “the audience is clapping, so they must all agree.”

But you have to manage applause to get the best effect. You say an important line, and then you have to pause to wait for the applause. First of all, make sure your line is something that your audience is guaranteed to agree with and strikes a chord with them. Only use “affirmative applause lines.” Avoid lines like “The system is broken!” The crowd is confused – does their clapping mean they think the system is broken, or are they clapping FOR the system? Make it easy – “The system is broken… and we need to fix it!” Don’t talk over applause, people won’t be able to hear what you’re saying.

There’s also an unwritten contract between a speaker and his audience about applause. You give a subtle signal when you’re ready for them to clap. You might have a certain tone of voice when you finish the applause sentence, and then you might want to lift your head and look out at the audience.

One trick, never let applause die out before you start again, always start your next line while the applause is still around 60%.

Don’t use too many applause lines, sprinkle them throughout your speech at the most important points. You don’t want people to get tired, or respond in a luke warm manner.


Practice and refine!
Finally, practice your various questions, lines and arguments and refine them as you go. You can do this one on one at the event prior to your speech while you’re networking with the audience, or you can use each speech as practice for the next. Test your “what we have in common” questions and your applause lines. Also practice your arguments and analogies the same way. Find the ones that work the best. For example, if you have a medical background, you might say, “I see deficit spending just like a bleeding patient who comes to the Emergency Room. You don’t just ignore the bleeding, or put a bandaid on it, that won’t work. Instead you identify the source of the bleeding and stop it, even if it hurts or leaves a scar. Otherwise the patient will die.”

Work out good analogies that can be used to make your points in a creative, memorable way. Counter liberal views using common sense to point out the hypocrisy. “They say they want gun control, but they want their security guards to have guns, not your wife and kids.”


We will be posting clips of good speeches on this page. Hopefully one of them will be yours!

Logical Fallacies and How to Spot Them

Note From Don: Here’s a great article that will help you in debates, dealing with the press, or just answering voter questions, either in person, or at town hall events. Think of examples of each one in politics, and how you’d respond. 

15 Common Logical Fallacies and How to Spot Them

Logical fallacies — those logical gaps that invalidate arguments — aren’t always easy to spot.

While some come in the form of loud, glaring inconsistencies, others can easily fly under the radar, sneaking into everyday meetings and conversations undetected.

Having an understanding of these basic logical fallacies can help you more confidently parse the arguments and claims you participate in and witness on a daily basis — separating fact from sharply dressed fiction.

Our list is by no means an exhaustive guide to every formal and informal fallacy, but it should help you build better arguments and identify logical missteps.

15 Common Logical Fallacies

1) The Straw Man Fallacy

This fallacy occurs when your opponent over-simplifies or misrepresents your argument (i.e., setting up a “straw man”) to make it easier to attack or refute. Instead of fully addressing your actual argument, speakers relying on this fallacy present a superficially similar — but ultimately not equal — version of your real stance, helping them create the illusion of easily defeating you.


John: I think we should hire someone to redesign our website.

Lola: You’re saying we should throw our money away on external resources instead of building up our in-house design team? That’s going to hurt our company in the long run.

2) The Bandwagon Fallacy

Just because a significant population of people believe a proposition is true, doesn’t automatically make it true. Popularity alone is not enough to validate an argument, though it’s often used as a standalone justification of validity. Arguments in this style don’t take into account whether or not the population validating the argument is actually qualified to do so, or if contrary evidence exists.

While most of us expect to see bandwagon arguments in advertising (e.g., “three out of four people think X brand toothpaste cleans teeth best”), this fallacy can easily sneak it’s way into everyday meetings and conversations.


The majority of people believe advertisers should spend more money on billboards, so billboards are objectively the best form of advertisement.

3) The Appeal to Authority Fallacy

While appeals to authority are by no means always fallacious, they can quickly become dangerous when you rely too heavily on the opinion of a single person — especially if that person is attempting to validate something outside of their expertise.

Getting an authority figure to back your proposition can be a powerful addition to an existing argument, but it can’t be the pillar your entire argument rests on. Just because someone in a position of power believes something to be true, doesn’t make it true.


Despite the fact that our Q4 numbers are much lower than usual, we should push forward using the same strategy because our CEO Barbara says this is the best approach.

4) The False Dilemma Fallacy

This common fallacy misleads by presenting complex issues in terms of two inherently opposed sides. Instead of acknowledging that most (if not all) issues can be thought of on a spectrum of possibilities and stances, the false dilemma fallacy asserts that there are only two mutually exclusive outcomes.

This fallacy is particularly problematic because it can lend false credence to extreme stances, ignoring opportunities for compromise or chances to re-frame the issue in a new way.


We can either agree with Barbara’s plan, or just let the project fail. There is no other option.

5) The Hasty Generalization Fallacy

This fallacy occurs when someone draws expansive conclusions based on inadequate or insufficient evidence. In other words, they jump to conclusions about the validity of a proposition with some — but not enough — evidence to back it up, and overlook potential counterarguments.


Two members of my team have become more engaged employees after taking public speaking classes. That proves we should have mandatory public speaking classes for the whole company to improve employee engagement.

6) The Slothful Induction Fallacy

Slothful induction is the exact inverse of the hasty generalization fallacy above. This fallacy occurs when sufficient logical evidence strongly indicates a particular conclusion is true, but someone fails to acknowledge it, instead attributing the outcome to coincidence or something unrelated entirely.


Even though every project Brad has managed in the last two years has run way behind schedule, I still think we can chalk it up to unfortunate circumstances, not his project management skills.

7) The Correlation/Causation Fallacy

If two things appear to be correlated, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that one of those things irrefutably caused the other thing. This might seem like an obvious fallacy to spot, but it can be challenging to catch in practice — particularly when you really want to find a correlation between two points of data to prove your point.


Our blog views were down in April. We also changed the color of our blog header in April. This means that changing the color of the blog header led to less views in April.

8) The Anecdotal Evidence Fallacy

In place of logical evidence, this fallacy substitutes examples from someone’s personal experience. Arguments that rely heavily on anecdotal evidence tend to overlook the fact that one (possibly isolated) example can’t stand alone as definitive proof of a greater premise.


One of our clients doubled their conversions after changing all their landing page text to bright red. Therefore, changing all text to red is a proven way to double conversions.

9) The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

This fallacy gets its colorful name from an anecdote about a Texan who fires his gun at a barn wall, and then proceeds to paint a target around the closest cluster of bullet holes. He then points at the bullet-riddled target as evidence of his expert marksmanship.

Speakers who rely on the Texas sharpshooter fallacy tend to cherry-pick data clusters based on a predetermined conclusion. Instead of letting a full spectrum of evidence lead them to a logical conclusion, they find patterns and correlations in support of their goals, and ignore evidence that contradicts them or suggests the clusters weren’t actually statistically significant.


Lisa sold her first startup to an influential tech company, so she must be a successful entrepreneur. (She ignores the fact that four of her startups have failed since then.)

10) The Middle Ground Fallacy

This fallacy assumes that a compromise between two extreme conflicting points is always true. Arguments of this style ignore the possibility that one or both of the extremes could be completely true or false — rendering any form of compromise between the two invalid as well.


Lola thinks the best way to improve conversions is to redesign the entire company website, but John is firmly against making any changes to the website. Therefore, the best approach is to redesign some portions of the website.

11) The Burden of Proof Fallacy

If a person claims that X is true, it is their responsibility to provide evidence in support of that assertion. It is invalid to claim that X is true until someone else can prove that X is not true. Similarly, it is also invalid to claim that X is true because it’s impossible to prove that X is false.

In other words, just because there is no evidence presented against something, that doesn’t automatically make that thing true.


Barbara believes the marketing agency’s office is haunted, since no one has ever proven that it isn’t haunted.

12) The Personal Incredulity Fallacy

If you have difficulty understanding how or why something is true, that doesn’t automatically mean the thing in question is false. A personal or collective lack of understanding isn’t enough to render a claim invalid.


I don’t understand how redesigning our website resulted in more conversions, so there must have been another factor at play. 

13) The “No True Scotsman” Fallacy

Often used to protect assertions that rely on universal generalizations (like “all Marketers love pie”) this fallacy inaccurately deflects counterexamples to a claim by changing the positioning or conditions of the original claim to exclude the counterexample.

In other words, instead of acknolwedging that a counterexample to their original claim exists, the speaker ammends the terms of the claim. In the example below, when Barabara presents a valid counterexample to John’s claim, John changes the terms of his claim to exclude Barbara’s counterexample.


John: No marketer would ever put two call-to-actions on a single landing page.

Barbara: Lola, a marketer, actually found great success putting two call-to-actions on a single landing page for our last campaign. 

John: Well, no true marketer would put two call-to-actions on a single landing page, so Lola must not be a true marketer. 

14) The Tu quoque Fallacy

The tu quoque fallacy (Latin for “you also”) is an invalid attempt to discredit an opponent by answering criticism with criticism — but never actually presenting a counterargument to the original disputed claim.

In the example below, Lola makes a claim. Instead of presenting evidence against Lola’s claim, John levels a claim against Lola. This attack doesn’t actually help John succeed in proving Lola wrong, since he doesn’t address her original claim in any capacity.


Lola: I don’t think John would be a good fit to manage this project, because he doesn’t have a lot of experience with project management.

John: But you don’t have a lot of experience in project management either!

15) The Fallacy Fallacy

Here’s something vital to keep in mind when sniffing out fallacies: just because someone’s argument relies on a fallacy doesn’t necessarily mean that their claim is inherently untrue.

Making a fallacy-riddled claim doesn’t automatically invalidate the premise of the argument — it just means the argument doesn’t actually validate their premise. In other words, their argument sucks, but they aren’t necessarily wrong.


John’s argument in favor of redesigning the company website clearly relied heavily on cherry-picked statistics in support of his claim, so Lola decided that redesigning the website must not be a good decision. 

First Impressions

Three different photos of one and the same man are organized into one picture. Short-haired man smiling in different clothing.

When it comes to survival, people are geniuses. And an important survival tool is the ability to quickly size up new people you meet. Are they a threat? A possible ally? A possible mate?

At work, is the new hire going to be friendly and someone you’d like to work with, or a threat who’s going to make constant trouble?

Did you know a man can decide if a woman is attractive to him in less than a second?

You’d think that assessing people who are TRYING to be friendly would be difficult. Are they sincere or just trying to sell you something to benefit themselves?

A car salesman is a perfect example. Does he come across as a carnival barker shouting all the benefits of this brand new car, and then pressure you into a confusing deal you can’t afford? Or does he take the time to relate to you as a person, find out what your needs are, and help you make the best decision?

Politicians are often compared to car salesmen. They pretend to care about you when they need your vote, but after they’re in office, unless you’re making a big donation, they send you a well-written form letter, or refer you to a junior member of their staff.

In a world where people are bombarded with new faces, all clamoring for attention, a quick assessment is essential. We don’t have an hour to get to know everyone we cross paths with. So we use every tool we have.

We don’t just listen to their words, we listen to the sound of their voice, their accent, the words they choose.

We don’t just look at their face, but their hair, their overall health, their clothing – does it match who they say they are? Is this someone who is just acting a part, or are they genuinely interested in helping me?

In a political campaign, the candidate’s focus is on himself. He is the most important person in the room. While others are speaking, he’s thinking about the speech he’s about to give. He wants to get every word right.

But to a woman in the audience, this guy is nothing special. He’s just one of fifteen candidates she’s going to listen to this evening. She has no idea who he is.

So when he gets up to speak, she probably isn’t even paying attention. She may be checking her phone for a message, or chatting with the person next to them about the last candidate, or about the cute guy in the third row.

As a candidate giving a speech, or creating a video or commercial, you need to realize that 95% of your audience has no idea who you are or what you stand for. They don’t care about you, they care about what YOU can do for THEM. They want to know that you understand their problems and have a plan for fixing them.

That first assessment can take just a few seconds. It’s essential that you make it as easy as possible for them to figure out who you are, so they can move on to listening to what you are saying. What office are you seeking? Do you look like someone who would look right holding that position?

If someone were running for sheriff, wouldn’t you be more comfortable if they were wearing a police or military type uniform? Would you be likely to support a gentle grandmother type for sheriff?

If you’re running for the House, you need to look the part. You don’t see news footage of a Representative on the floor of the House giving a speech on foreign affairs wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

The other tendency for a candidate is to overload his audience with too much information. He feels that if he just explains things in more and more detail then they’ll understand him better. But they’ve already made up 90% of their minds and the more you talk, the more they realize you don’t understand them at all.

They think, “What’s in it for me? Why should I support you over the other three guys who are asking for my vote? Why will you do better than they will? Do you understand what I want? Are you sincere or are you just another politician who’s in it for his own benefit? Can you actually do what you say, or are you just giving a speech?”

The same goes with websites. You need to make an excellent first impression instantly. People size up a candidate’s website subconsciously. Is it clear what’s going on? What is the candidate’s appearance? Is he someone I can relate to? Does he understand my problems and can he help me, or is he just another politician? Is he respectful of my time, or does he expect me to spend two hours reading through pages of documents trying to figure out what he really means?

Understanding the value of an excellent first impression, and knowing that voters need THEIR interests addressed, will help you get off to the best start possible.

Managing Your Digital Team

The digital world can be very confusing. It’s important to have people on your team who know what to do. Red America Consulting has staff to help you with all aspects of social media, communications and fundraising. But you’ll also need help finding local people, whether they’re paid staff, interns, or volunteers.

Your team members will need to manage your social media, your website and content, and any electronic fundraising. Everything will need to tie in to your main message and theme. You’ll need a team that is knowlegeable and experienced and that can respond quickly when the need arises.

You’ll want to keep an eye on their performance and make sure that everything is happening on time and on schedule.

A good digital team can be an excellent “force multiplier” with effective, efficient communications with your voters and supporters.

Fundraising Tips

Your first step after you decide to run is to plan your fundraising efforts. Here are some tips and ideas on how to make it a little easier…

Develop Your Message
You must have a clear message about who you are, why you’re running, and how you’re going to help your supporters. Without it, you’re just selling thin air.

Start Early
Raise some funds before you announce your campaign to the public. You want to appear professional and organized or no one will support you. You’ll need office space, phone, supplies and materials.

Develop Your Fundraising Team
Red America Consulting will help you every step of the way, but you’ll also need local people on the ground to help.

Do Some Fundraising Events
Hold a cookout, breakfast, or other sort of fun event that will attract a crowd. If you can tie the event to your overall campaign theme, that’s even better. So the “Save the Environment” candidate would have a fundraiser at a local park or wildlife reserve, while a candidate positioned as “Someone from Your Hometown” might have a barbeque and show off his cooking skills. Don’t skimp on the price, people know you’re trying to raise money.

Run Your Campaign Like a Business
Be efficient and frugal with your spending. Use volunteers and interns as much as possible, if a donor has an office supply store, ask for him to donate some materials, or pay for some printing. Cutting your costs by 50% is the same as doubling your funds raised!

Ask for Contributions by Phone or Mail
Call or write people who have expressed interest in your campaign.

Sell Campaign Materials
Promote your campaign and raise money by selling buttons, bumper stickers, t-shirts, hats or other items that resonate with your campaign. So the “Save the Environment” might sell something on recycled paper, or the “Hometown Candidate” might sell barbeque sauce with his name and photo. Don’t forget to include your website, email and other contact information.

Is it Tax Deductible?
Check with the IRS and mention if contributions are tax deductible.

Go Big
Sometimes it’s more productive to ask for a few larger contributions than trying to go for lots of tiny ones. On the other hand, using your website to ask for a $10-$20 donation means you can go back to the same donor for an additional contribution later. Having a specific reason for the request helps. “I’m going to be in a debate Monday night and I need $10,000 to run TV ads afterwards…”

Making Direct Mail More Effective

Direct mail seems antiquated in these days of email, facebook and twitter, but, if used properly, can be very effective at fundraising, getting out the vote, and carrying your message directly to your best voters.

Your first priority is to get the envelope opened. 75% ends up in the trash, so start with the outside. The key is to be unique. Experiment with anything that is different than a standard #10 white envelope.

Personalize the outside using different color inks, handwriting font, or actual volunteer handwriting.

ASK for a contribution or volunteer time. Often. Be specific about what you need and why. Will the money be used for a radio or TV ad? What do you need volunteers to do?

Keep your message short and highlight and accent the important parts. Use photos, be creative.

Get your readers to reply. Ask for information or feedback. They’re more likely to include a check!

Use real stamps. Make it look important, official, or personal. Anything that keeps your letter from looking like junk mail helps.

The staff at Red America Consulting will advise and guide you through all your Direct Mail efforts.

Inside Tips for Facebook and Twitter

Here are some facts about Facebook and Twitter…

Surveys show that 53% of Americans now have a Facebook page.
Americans 55 years of age and older are the fastest growing demographic of daily Facebook users, and Facebook is now the #1 news source for 58% of Americans age 18 to 29.
17 million Americans use Twitter with 53% posting no updates and just reading others Tweets.
Here are some tips on how to get the most out of Facebook and Twitter…

Timing is important. Weekend Facebook posts get more responses, but fewer people post on the weekends, so your response is amplified even further.

Best Facebook link clicks are between 1 and 4pm. Try not to post before 11am or after 4pm.

Twitter gets the best responses earlier in the week and in the 1-3pm time slot. Worst responses are after 8pm.

You can use various tools to schedule your posts and tweets so they come out at the best times without you having to be handcuffed to your smartphone.

Images and videos are good on Twitter, but you need to have the right image that will capture attention and generate curiosity. Hashtags are also very helpful and get almost double the response, but try to use one or two. Asking people to “retweet” your message is extremely effective – ten to twenty times better, especially when you use the word “retweet.”

Asking your supporters on Facebook to like and share your messages works very well, too.

Keep it simple and short. Tweets with less than 100 characters and Facebook posts of less than 80 get the best responses. Asking questions will double your number of comments.

Post regularly. Three to five times a week is best. Being inactive indicates a lack of interest on your part, and being too active will overwhelm your readers.

Look at your statistics. See how each post or tweet is liked, shared or commented on and change your strategies based on what you learn.

Finally, respond to comments. This allows you to dialog with individual voters, and test ways to explain your positions. It also shows voters that you’re active in your campaign and care about your consituents. Always be NICE and RESPECTFUL and never get into a shouting match with a negative reader. Discourage rudeness and obscenity wherever it appears. Dissavow any negative comments you can’t erase. Follow through on any promises you make.

Our staff at Red America Consulting will help you with all your social media issues so you can make the most effective use of these most valuable tools.

Do I Need to Use Twitter?

Twitter is one of those things that you either love or hate. It’s as familiar as your phone, or as alien as… an alien.

But it is very useful, and worth learning about so you can use it effectively.

Twitter users are uniquely active in shaping public opinion – journalists, activists, and political junkies. They can take your message and spread it widely.

It also has the benefit of being immediate. When a story breaks, a quick Twitter comment can be effective damage control by getting your side of the issue in public. Often local media will check your Twitter account before running a story to make sure they haven’t missed anything.

But you also have to be extremely careful. Anything you say on Twitter is forever. If you say something stupid or insensitive, your opponents will hound you with it until the race is over.

On the other hand, monitoring your opponents tweets can lead to some great opportunties – either to point out THEIR mistakes, or to poke fun at some of their more questionable positions and put them on the defensive.

Make sure you get expert advice on all aspects of using Twitter. Using links, video links, images and the proper hashtags can make your “tweets” much more successful and effective.

You can also use Twitter as a testing method for various issues and phrasings – craft a message and then see how many retweets and favorites result. You can also collect valuable insight into what people are thinking about you and your campaign and be aware of problems you need to be prepared to address.

At Red America Consulting, we will train you how to use Twitter and how to garner the best results.

How Important is Advanced Technology?

Advanced tools and cutting edge technology are very appealing, especially to political junkies and campaign consultants. The danger is that the technology may end up driving the strategy, without any proof that it gets the results you want.

At Red Amercia Consulting, we’ll help you with these tools, but our main focus will always be on your campaign and it’s message to the voters.

A good message trumps technology every time, and a poor message is still a poor message, regardless of how flashy the presentation!