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Scholastic asked some expert political speechwriters to tell YOU the secrets of writing a speech that wins a crowd. Here are their tips:

Pick Your Main Ideas
Don't try to put too many ideas into your speech. Research shows that people remember very little from speeches, so just give them one or two ideas to hang onto. Remember, you only have one minute for your speech!

Write Like You Talk
Remember that you're writing a speech, not an essay. People will hear the speech, not read it. The more conversational you can make it sound, the better. So try these tips:

  • Use short sentences. It's better to write two simple sentences than one long, complicated sentence.
  • Use contractions. Say "I'm" instead of "I am" "we're" instead of "we are."
  • Don't use big words that you wouldn't use when talking to someone.
  • You don't have to follow all the rules of written English grammar.
    "Like this. See? Got it? Hope so." Your English teacher might be horrified, but people don't always talk in complete sentences with verbs and nouns. So try to write like people talk.
  • Always read your speech aloud while you're writing it. You'll hear right away if you sound like a book or a real person talking!

Use Concrete Words and Examples
Concrete details keep people interested. For instance, which is more effective? A vague sentence like "Open play spaces for children's sports are in short supply." Or the more concrete "We need more baseball and soccer fields for our kids."

Get Your Facts Together
You want people to believe that you know what you're talking about! So you'll need to do some research. For instance, let's say your big issue is the environment. You promise to pass a law that says all new cars must run on electricity, not gas. That will cut down on air pollution! But it would help if you had a few facts: How much bad air does one car create each year? How many new cars are sold in the U.S. every year? So how much will pollution be cut every year? Use the library or the Internet to do research. Your new policy proposal will sound really strong if you have the facts to back it up.

There are many issues you can talk about at your inauguration. How do you pick one? A good idea is to look inside yourself and find out what you feel very deeply about. Maybe it's the environment. Or maybe you care about stopping war. Or you feel passionate that all schools should have more art and music classes. Or you feel that downloading music on the Internet should be free! Your issue should reflect who you are and what you care about.

Persuade With a Classic Structure
In a speech where you're trying to persuade someone, the classic structure is called "Problem-Solution." In the first part of your speech you say, "Here's a problem, here's why things are so terrible." Then, in the second part of your speech you say, "Here's what we can do to make things better." Sometimes it helps to persuade people if you have statistics or other facts in your speech. And sometimes you can persuade people by quoting someone else that the audience likes and respects.

After you've written a first draft of your speech, go back and look for words you can cut. Cutting words in the speech can make your points more clear. One speechwriter for a U.S. Senator has a sign above her desk that says: "Fewer Words = Clearer Point." It helps her remember to always simplify a speech by cutting out words.

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