Seeking political office requires powers of persuasion, which are most obvious in an election speech. A speech allows the candidate to introduce himself to potential voters, to express his concerns about the problems that must be addressed and to propose solutions. For the audience, it is a chance to find common ground with the candidate and to be persuaded to cast a ballot in their own self-interest.
Marks of an Effective Speech
Introduce yourself to the audience and break the ice with humor. Recognize notables in the audience or pay homage if the event is tied to an occasion. Lay out your central idea, which should be succinct, memorable and repeated throughout the address.
Show knowledge of the audience. Use anecdotes or tell stories that express shared experiences. Outline problems and challenges in a way that shows an understanding of the audience's concerns. Follow up by proposing solutions that address the listeners' concerns.
State in certain terms the intent of the speech and then outline step-by-step the main points. The "meat and potatoes'' of the speech should follow and address each point. Rehearsing the speech beforehand is crucial to a smooth delivery.
Use a rhetorical question to spark interaction with the audience and as a lead-in to a specific point on which you might share agreement. Also keep statements and message sound-bites short and to the point.
It is crucial to maintain the attention of the listening audience, which research shows has a short attention span. Therefore, it is important to establish early in the address exactly what their stake is in hearing what you have to say.
A newsroom veteran since 1982, Gail Ferguson Jones has reported and edited for Dow Jones and "The Star-Ledger" in Newark, N.J., and has won first-place awards in deadline and spot-news reporting. Ferguson Jones is a Rutgers University graduate and completed a jounalism fellowship at the University of Missouri.