On one hand our words DON’T matter. They don’t seem to matter as much as how we say them, what we look like saying them, and what the audience hears. But as long as you are an octopus and have many hands, on the other hand, our words do matter. Words are the heartbeat of our relationships and the heartbeat of our country.
In President Biden’s inauguration speech, a collaborative effort I imagine, as it should be, look for the presence or absence of these rules, per Frank Luntz. A speechwriter helps you get to your best you.
- Simplicty: Use small words. Think of JFK’s ask not question. Powerful yet small words.
- Brevity: Use short sentences. RFK became so much more effective when he moved from long sentences to normal.
- Consistency matters. Up until now, Biden is nothing if not consistent.
- Novelty: Offer something new. This speech needs to offer something new, in May 1960 JFK brought up the space race.
- Speak aspirationally; people forget what you say but not how you made them feel. Today people want to feel safe.
- Visualize, the word “imagine” is an incredibly powerful tool. He is also prone to use the rhetorical device, the simple truth is.
- Ask a question; help them reach the point on their own. Obams’s four big questions in his first State of the Union speech.
- Provide context and explain relevance. So far he does repeatedly, using Charlotteville as one of his contextual points.