How to Write a Presidential Speech

Three Methods:Opening the Presidential SpeechDeveloping the Presidential SpeechDelivering the Presidential Speech

Are you running for president? There are some tried and true ways to write an effective campaign speech. Maybe you're running for school president or another office. You want your speech to be memorable and persuasive!

Method 1
Opening the Presidential Speech

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    Find a central point. What is the number one thing, or theme, that you want people to remember about your speech? Figure that out, and make sure that you get to that point quickly.
    • You should make this theme simple enough that you can express it in one sentence. Hope and change was President Obama’s theme. Make America great again is Donald Trump’s theme.
    • Almost everyone knows these themes because they are simple and easy to remember. Politicians understand that simplicity is memorable. They find a way to capture what they will do and believe in a single theme.[1]
    • Once you figure out this theme, and you figure out how to capture it in a single, memorable sentence, make sure that you repeat it several times in your speech. It’s important to mention it fast, and at the end, and return to the theme in the middle too.
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    Write a strong introduction. You want to use your introduction to develop an immediate report with your audience and to introduce your key theme.
    • It can be a good idea to give people your name so they remember it more. Unless it’s obvious, tell people the position you are seeking. You could start the speech with an anecdote, a quip or a strong quote.[2][3]
    • Make sure the opening of the speech stands out. Don’t be afraid to offer a little humor, but make sure that it’s immediately clear what you would bring to the table.[4]
    • End the introduction with a concise preview of the issues that you plan to discussion. For example, “If elected school president, I will focus on lengthening lunch hours, adding more student clubs, and reducing student fees.”
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    Study great campaign speeches. You can find many of the best campaign speeches in history online. You should read them.[5]
    • Read the written speeches if you can find them, and then try to watch candidate speeches on You Tube. You will get a sense of what works and what doesn’t and how the speeches are organized.
    • If you’re running for a student position, review sample student campaign speeches. There are many of these templates online.
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    Figure out what makes you unique. You don’t want to be too generic, repeating boring campaign slogans that everyone will use.
    • Instead, figure out what sets you apart from the other candidates. Perhaps it’s because you’ve held a leadership position before. Perhaps it’s because you used to run a small business.
    • Whatever your unique selling position is, make sure that you reveal it to the audience early on in the speech. Tell the audience an anecdote relating to this uniqueness in order to make the point memorable. Make sure the unique point you bring out has a direct linkage to the audience’s needs and your campaign promises. #*For example, if people are concerned about the economy, and you have training in economics, and your opponents do not, mention it.[6]

Method 2
Developing the Presidential Speech

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    Organize the speech like an essay. It’s really no different. An effective presidential speech should have a beginning, middle, and end.
    • In the beginning of the speech, you should build rapport and introduce your theme sentence as well as a brief summary of the key points you will address.
    • The middle of the speech is where you will make your case. It should be longer than the beginning and the end because it’s where you outline your promises, the need for them, and how you will solve that need.
    • The end of the speech should tie back into the beginning by reinforcing the candidate’s central theme sentence.
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    Explain the problem. In order to get people to buy into your solutions, you need to convince them that change is needed.
    • Stick with 2-3 key points. Don’t inundate the audience with too many details or nothing will seem memorable. You could open by saying, here are the three things we need to change.
    • Be specific. Use statistics and human anecdotes to highlight the problem. However, be brief. You want to focus on solutions more than problems.
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    Outline your solutions. It’s better to be positive than negative. Paint a vivid picture for the audience of what the world will be like with you as president (or your school environment).
    • Again, boil down the speech to 2-3 key issues that you plan to change. Be very specific when you outline your solutions.
    • Your speech should focus more on solutions than on the problems. Make your promises first, then outline the need, and then return to the promises.
    • Expand on each of your key promises by detailing the problem and how you plan to address it specifically.
    • Don’t make the middle of the speech too dry, though. Constantly reinforce your personality and theme throughout the details of your promises.
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    Keep the speech short. No one wants to listen to an hour long speech. In fact, some politicians whose speeches ran too long at their party’s convention became the butt of jokes.
    • A good rule of thumb is that less than 7 minutes is probably too short and more than 25 minutes is probably too long. Unless the event you are speaking at has a specific requirement, shoot for somewhere in between the above.
    • It’s probably advisable to err on the lower side of the equation. A 15-minute speech is about the point where people will start to squirm. If you’re not sure, go short.[7]
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    Relate issues to your audience. You want your audience to care about the points that you are making. Find a way to directly connect your promises to their needs and experiences.
    • Let’s say you are talking about the Vietnam war. This might seem remote to 18-year-olds in your audience now – unless you remind them that many soldiers who died in Vietnam were no older than themselves.
    • Similarly, perhaps you are running for high school president and you want to find a way to ensure the administration does more to meet the needs of students. If you provide a specific your audience can relate to, this will be more effective. Perhaps you say that you will ensure the administration listens to student wishes for a longer lunch break.
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    Give the audience a sense of your background. Make sure you give some sense of your qualifications for the job. Don’t talk endlessly about yourself, though, or it will seem arrogant.
    • If you are running for school president, you could mention things you’ve done that helped the school or student body, clubs you’ve belonged to and previous positions you’ve held.[8]
    • Politicians often present a few anecdotes from their family background, too, if they think it will build a sense of character to the audience. Some politicians emphasize their parents’ coal mining backgrounds, for example, in an attempt to connect with a blue-collar audience.
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    End with a call to action. This is a principle often seen in advertising. At the end of the speech, you should urge people to take action.
    • Perhaps it’s to join your campaign. Most likely, it’s that you will want them to vote for you. Don’t hesitate to ask people for their vote. Thank them for considering you.
    • Tell people how critical their vote is, not only to you, but also for the platform and change that you are eager to implement on their behalf.

Method 3
Delivering the Presidential Speech

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    Decide on the tone for your speech. Remember that you are going to be reading the speech out loud. You will want to figure out to sound. Try to speak in your natural voice.
    • Some speeches play to people’s fears and anger, but the best ones remain positive and play toward people’s optimism. People want to know how you will improve things for the better; they don’t only want to know how you think other people have messed up. Ronald Reagan had a gift for optimism that worked in speeches. John F. Kennedy did too. Their tone embraced what was good about the country.
    • Make your tone conversational. You don’t want it to sound like you are too rehearsed or reading from a piece of paper. The most effective speakers sound like they are speaking directly to the audience. Thus, people don’t see them as regular politicians. Bill Clinton was a master at this. George W. Bush also had a conversational style.
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    Keep your sentences short. Remember that you are writing for the ear, not the eye. People process less information through hearing than reading. So keep your sentences short.
    • This is why broadcast writing is less dense than print writing, generally. When writing a speech, keep the sentences concise.
    • Try to use one direct point per sentence. People can understand complex topics better when they are reading.
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    Write like people talk. People don’t back into sentences with endless opening clauses generally. Use strong verbs and active, not passive, voice. Read your speech out loud as you write it so you can make sure it sounds conversational.
    • You don’t need to fixate on proper grammar, punctuation, and so forth in a speech that will be given verbally (and presidential speeches are designed to be spoken).
    • It’s more important to capture the cadences and colloquialisms of regular speech, while staying true to yourself.[9]
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    Show passion. No one wants to vote for someone who sounds dry, boring and cold. Take off your professor’s hat, and speak with emotion that appeals to the common man or woman.
    • Ancient philosophers who perfected the art of rhetoric called this “pathos.” An appeal to the emotions. Figure out the emotional response you want to create in your audience and then use sensory language and anecdotes to create it.
    • The philosophers believed that the core of any persuasive speech should be logos (an appeal to reason). However, they believed that speeches without pathos failed to move.
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    Practice the speech. Don’t wing it. You need to know the speech like the back of your hand. There are some politicians who know their speeches so well that they don’t need notes.
    • The key though is to practice the speech without sounding too rehearsed. There are some politicians who prefer to use an outline and speak more contemporaneously so they don’t sound “like a politician.”
    • Remember that giving a speech is theater. You need to be dramatic and show passion, but you don’t want to stumble over words or look down like you’re reading it.
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    Remain civil. It’s a big mistake to go on the attack against your opponents. It will make you seem smaller, and it risks building them up.
    • Focus on your own platform. What you will change and how you plan on doing that. Talk about the qualifications that you bring to the job. Don’t bog down by attacking other candidates.
    • They say that when people get in trouble, it’s usually because they went negative.
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    Try a joke. Of course, putting a joke into a speech is risky. If it’s not funny, you can fall flat and create an awkward moment. However, if you pull it off, a joke can make your audience connect with you and this is a key to an effective speech.
    • Presidential speech writers recommend that, if you’re going to use a joke, that you open the speech that way. Create a rapport with the audience and use a joke that is specific to the location.
    • Stay away from any offensive jokes and make sure a joke is appropriate to the occasion.
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    Tell stories or anecdotes. It’s important that the audience be able to identify with you early on in the speech. Tell stories or anecdotes to illustrate your points.
    • This technique will also make your points more persuasive. If you are promising to deliver on a certain campaign point, the anecdote can humanize the topic and show why change is needed. It can also illustrate the human importance of voting for you.
    • The key phrase to remember is to “show, don’t tell.” Show your telling points with vivid human stories. You could also tell an anecdote or two about yourself to show the audience you’re relatable or have been through what they’ve experienced.


  • If you don't win the election, just remember to be a good sport to everybody. Your opportunities in the future are more likely to become greater.
  • Remember to have good posture while you're giving your speech.
  • Make eye contact. It's important not to spend the entire speech looking down!
  • If you win, congratulate your opponents on a job well done.
  • If it's your first time, don't be nervous, just have faith in yourself.
  • Be confident. If you're nervous, hide it.
  • Speak very loudly and clearly.

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Categories: Speechwriting