3 speechwriting tips to find the perfect sound bite

Four industry pros share their best practices for writing inclusive, interesting messages that have staying power.

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Good speechwriting requires a knack for storytelling and an ear for spoken language, but it’s also a skill that can be honed with practice.

Here are three tips speechwriting pros shared during Ragan’s Speechwriting and Public Affairs Conference on March 31:

1. Don’t be afraid to get personal.

The best speeches and public remarks come from a place of connection, says Katye Riselli, speechwriter for former First Lady Laura Bush.

In speeches Riselli helped craft for Bush, she would lean heavily on Bush’s personal experiences and anecdotes to create context for the overall purpose of the speech.

It’s not so much about what gets said, but rather how it’s said, Riselli advises.

It can be difficult to personalize speeches if you don’t have direct access to your principal. In those cases, David Levey, a veteran speechwriter and public affairs officer, recommends reaching out to their close friends and confidantes.

Getting familiar with a principal’s former speechwriter is what helped Alexandra Robinson, a deputy speechwriter for U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh.

“It made it so much easier when I came on board,” she says. “Even though I was starting from scratch, I really wasn’t. I felt like I had an ally who was able to get me through what I needed to learn.”

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