This week is the Democratic National Convention, and last week was the Republican National Convention. Don’t worry, this isn’t turning into a politics blog! There’s actually a lot you can learn about effective writing from paying attention to the conventions, regardless of which party you gravitate towards. Because conventions are all about speeches, and speeches are all about writing persuasively. Sure, it’s partly in the delivery, but a well-written speech can elevate a decent speaker to a great one, while a poorly written one can waste the most charming candidate’s time with the mic. So pay attention to which speeches keep your interest—and which speeches people are talking about, sharing links to, quoting from the next day—and then spend some time reading and thinking about how the writers put the speech together.
DGLM client Roy Peter Clark did this with Michelle Obama’s speech at the opening night of the DNC. Clark identifies eight lessons from the First Lady’s speech that writers of any kind can benefit from. Strategies like “Use first person, second person and third person to create specific effects” and “Express your best thought in a short sentence.” These are especially useful if you’re working on a piece of writing meant to prove a point or win someone’s allegiance…for example, a query letter!
So next time you tune into a political speech, pay attention to not just what the speaker says, but how they say it! Find some inspiration for your own work (just be careful you take inspiration only, no fair hacking the actual words of the poor hard-working caffeine-addicted speechwriters!). And don’t forget to VOTE!
What tip in Roy Peter Clark’s list do you find most useful? Let us know in the comments if you’ve seen anything else in the presidential conventions that you want to apply to your query letter!