There is a reason why so many of you were enthralled by former President Clinton the other night. It’s the same reason why Barack Obama had a tough act to follow last night at his own convention. The art of speechwriting and speech-giving -- and it is an art, no doubt -- is also, in many ways, a science. A good speech flows sort of like a backward scientific method; it starts with a preconceived idea, and is supported by evidence reinforcing the idea. And politics aside, there may be no one better at doing this than William Jefferson Clinton.
The best speeches, political or otherwise, follow a set of five basic guidelines, says Greta Stahl, content developer (read: speechwriter) at Duarte, a communications firm that advises TED talkers, CEOs and companies from Cisco to Twitter. “Most great speeches really start with a message, and choose strategically which evidence to cite. It’s sort of the opposite of how you form an opinion,” she said.Understand your audience and target your words appropriately.
This is actually pretty hard in a political convention, because you’re playing to two separate audiences: The cheering one on the convention floor who will already vote for you, and the one at home, watching on TV, minds maybe or maybe not made up.