Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Avoid Long State of the Association Speeches

As a long-time association speech writer, I often watch major speeches not for what is said but the delivery styles and other components of the speech.

This is one reason I continue to be shocked when U.S. Presidents give State of the Union speeches lasting an hour or longer. The graphic above shows the average length of presidential speeches.

Most of the few Americans watching a State of the Union address tire long before the speech finishes. 

We get tired ... 
  • of the applause lines with Members of Congress jumping up and down on cue; 
  • of the “bored-looking” leaders in the background; 
  • of a laundry list of “ideas” being offered and 
  • of the responses and talking head critics.
The long list of “new” initiatives becomes mind numbing. Why not just list three key points and share them in a memorable way. It always seems to be that State of the Union speeches are written by committee.

Most associations include a “presidential address” during their annual conventions. I have written or designed 10 or more major speeches for leading associations. In addition to focusing on audience, message, content and form, I also tried to incorporate some type of surprise to spice up what can be a boring element of the conference.

If you have anything to do with the speech, think of the audience first and follow these three suggestions:
  • Keep talk to no more than 20 minutes.
  • Consider no more than three key points.
  • If you have a laundry list, share as handout and/or via social media.

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