Writing a good speech: challenge or child’s play?
Recently, Dr2events attended C-day of Logeion and we were treated to a presentation by Cody Keenan. Keenan started his career as a campaign assistant for Barack Obama in 2008 and became director of speechwriting for the White House in 2013.
The principles of a good speech are not difficult, sometimes even obvious. “If it’s that easy, why doesn’t everyone always go out nodding and smiling with a big smile after such a presentation?” We wondered. Of course, the whole world knows Obama and his legendary speeches, so for that reason alone it was inspiring. But there is more going on …
In his story, Keenan shows that he actually puts theory into practice:
Keep it personal: here he indicated that it really is about co-creation. Together with Obama, he built the perfect story every time. He asked him questions: why does he want to tell this story? Why does he think it is important that these listeners hear this? And Keenan had him co-write parts.
Keep it real: truth is also an important element of a good speech. In the sense that it is correct, but also in the sense of telling the whole story. Behind every story there are fears and question marks. Addressing these make the story so much stronger.
Keep it concise: our conclusion was that you should not tie together too many topics. What is the core? It is our role as a consultant to point this out to (internal) clients again and again.
Last but not least, his advice was: Keep it simple! Ask yourself what you would tell your friends. Just check the story with some people. Do they understand what you want to say? What questions are they left with?
With every speech and every story, he transformed these four principles into an authentic story. Nothing new, no rocket science. What is the difference with daily practice? Apparently people need to be reminded of this base regularly, making time for it and paying attention to it. We see it as our task to remind clients of this. To use all the necessary ingredients every time. Not a little, but all the way. The time and effort you put in at the front pays off in the long-run.