Secrets of the speech writer.

There seems to be a wealth of expertise today on why the Ontario liberals failed us in the June election. One of the more recent apologists was a speech writer who tells us he has spent, probably too much, time at Queen’s park. His article made me wonder about how speeches are being crafted today.

There are certain basics about political speeches that I am sure never change. One of the first basics is understanding your audience. If you do not know your audience, you are better to say hello, introduce yourself in simple terms and then keep quiet and listen.

Writing speeches for somebody new is always a special challenge. I was criticized more than once for asking a lot of seemingly inane questions. What I was doing was listening to how the person talked. I had to be able to hear in my mind, the person saying every word I would write.

You also had to convince the new client that you will rap their knuckles if they dare to change any of your phrasing. You spend a good deal of time seeking to preserve what is built into the speech that makes logical clips for the broadcast media.

But I would never recommend to a political client that they think or talk like Doug Ford. The one thing you can count on is that most people are smarter than the younger Ford brother. Doug is no business genius. He is just a salesman, albeit a good one. He knows to repeat the winning slogans as his brother taught him. What he also tried to pick up from his late brother was Rob’s commitment and street smarts. Rob connected—maybe with people you are not interested in—but he built Ford Nation on their loyalty. You should never be critical of a guy with his own mob!

The speech writer is knowledgeable enough to know that politicians should not be going around giving lectures in civics. Nothing seems to turn off voters faster. And he thinks they should explain to voters why they care about them –also a good idea.

But the problem now for salesman Doug Ford is delivering on what he has promised his customers. They delivered the votes he wanted. He now has to deliver the goods. A good speech writer cannot always solve that problem.


Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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