Category: Interns

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!

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.