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Michael Long is a speechwriter, author, educator, and award-winning screenwriter and playwright.

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How to Get 'em to Pay Attention to Your Speech
Use feeling to supercharge the facts.

You know how I feel: The Molecule of More is a breakthrough tour of why we do what we do in love, business, ambition, and politics, and it explains creativity in a way you've never considered.

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The bread and butter of most speechwriters is the “informative” speech – remarks not to change minds but to deliver facts, data, and direction to an audience that needs them.
Yet to think of these as “informative” speeches, even to label them that way, is a mistake that undermines your ability to write an effective speech, and for the audience to get much out of it.
I feel so strongly about this that I tell my students that there is no such thing as an informative speech. “Every speech,” I say, “is a speech to persuade.”
Not because it starts out that way, but because you must make it into one.

He doesn't come down the chimney. But he does have a jolly beard.
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The great challenge of speechwriting is getting people to keep listening. Paying attention is hard. Keeping focused is hard. Processing what you hear for any extended period of time is hard. No matter how important something is, the mind pesters us for a new challenge, or at least something that makes us react.
Our ongoing desire is to feel something, not just to accept something. If the material doesn’t evoke emotion, the speaker must provoke emotion in the listener: a speaker must tell the audience how to feel.
When you frame the topic up front, don’t describe a category. Take a side. Tell them how you feel about it – and, by extension, how you want them to feel about it, too.
Which speech gets your attention, “Let me tell you about socialism,” or “Socialism is a failed philosophy”? You’re intrigued by the second formulation, and that’s true whether you are for or against socialism, or even if you have no opinion at all.
If you have a favorable opinion of socialism, you want to pick apart the argument this speaker will make against it.
If you’re opposed to socialism, you want to enjoy the validation this speaker is about to deliver.
And if you don’t have an opinion, you want to figure out whether this person has a valid case.
But a recitation of the facts of socialism – heck, the plain ol’ facts of anything? Yikes. How boring.
But, you say, my boss doesn’t talk about things that have even a whiff of controversy to them.
It’ll still work. Consider a CEO telling his employees about business plans for the next quarter. The typical talk would simply present the high points and end on an attaboy. The title or first line would probably be something like “Here are the plans we have for the coming three months.”
No, no, no.

Why should they care? Tell 'em how to feel!

Why should they care? Tell them how to feel!
“The plans we’ve made for the next three months are going to increase our market share, give us greater influence in this industry, and make your jobs more challenging – and more interesting.” Then the speaker can roll through the details -- and not as inventory.

Instead he can present them in the context of what they will achieve: greater market share, influence, and challenge. Now the audience has a reason to listen. Some will feel encouraged and others will expect to be convinced, but now all of them are motivated to listen.
Start off with the “informative” attitude and you’ll write a 20-minute sleeping pill. Set out to persuade – tell them how you want them to feel.
Whether they agree or disagree, they’ll listen.

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© 2018 Mike Long. All rights reserved.
Burke, VA  22015
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