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AGENDA Speech Writing Bill Clinton‘s 10 Rhetorical Strategies in Speech Writing The Action Step
Bill Clinton‘s speech at the Democratic NationalConvention has gotten a lot of attention — andunderstandably so.While Factcheck.org called it ―a fact-checker‘snightmare‖ and others criticized it for being too long,there‘s something about Clinton‘s speech that made itstand out: good writing.There are several factors that made the writing in thespeech so strong. Here are a few of them.http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/top-stories/187705/10-rhetorical-strategies-that-made-bill-clintons-dnc-speech-effective/
ContrastClinton strengthened many of his points by setting up contrasts —about President Barack Obama and about the differences betweenthe Republican and Democratic parties. ―I want to nominate a man who‘s cool on the outside – but who burns for America on the inside.‖ ―If you want a winner-take- all, you‘re-on-your- own society, you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility, a we‘re-all- in-this-together society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.‖
Repetition Clinton repeated a few different refrains, words and phrases throughout his speech. The repetition made these parts of his speech more memorable. ―I want to nominate a man who‘s cool on the outside.‖ ―I want a man who believes with no doubt that we can build a new American Dream economy…‖ ―I want a man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama.‖ ―I want Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States.‖ ―One of the main reasons we ought to re-elect President Obama is that he is still committed to constructive cooperation. Look at his record. Look at his record.‖ ―And if you will renew the president‘s contract, you will feel it. You will feel it.‖
Inclusive languageClinton often used the pronouns ―we,‖―us‖ and ―y‘all,‖ and the phrase ―myfellow Americans.‖ The language madehis message inclusive and emphasizedpartnership over partisanship. ―We Democrats — we think the country works better with a strong middle class…‖ In Tampa — in Tampa — did y‘all watch their convention?‖ ―My fellow Americans, all of us in this grand hall and everybody watching at home, when we vote in this election, we‘ll be deciding what kind of country we want to live in.‖ ―You see, we believe that ‗we‘re all in this together‘ is a far better philosophy than ‗you‘re on your own.‘‖ ―My fellow Americans, if that is what you want, if that is what you believe, you must vote and you must re-elect President Barack Obama.‖
―We think the country works better with a strong middle class, with real opportunities for poor folks to work their way into it with a relentless focus on the future, with business and government actually working together to promote growth and broadly share prosperity.‖ ―Now, are we where we want to be today? No. Is the president satisfied? Of course not. But are we better off than we were when he took office? … The answer is yes.‖ ―The arithmetic tells us, no matter what they say, one of three things is about to happen.‖ (He then goes on to explain these three things, starting off each point with the words, ―one,‖ ―two,‖ ―three.‖) The ―rule of three‖ Writers often rely on the rule of three to add rhythm to their writing and emphasize points they want to make. Clinton relied on it several times throughout his speech.
―So here‘s another job score. President Obama: plus 4 1/2 million. Congressional Republicans: zero.‖ ―Here – here‘s another job score: Obama, 250,000; Romney … zero.‖ The power of one ―What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one- Words hold weight when they word answer: Arithmetic.‖ stand alone. Two words in particular stuck out during ―It was a highly inconvenient Clinton‘s speech — ―zero‖ and thing for them in our debates that I ―arithmetic.‖ They were powerful was just a country boy from all on their own because Clinton Arkansas, and I came from a place paused before saying them, where people still thought two and enunciated them and repeated them. two was four. It‘s arithmetic.‖
HumorIt‘s not easy to incorporate humor into writing,especially when talking about heavy subjects. ButClinton managed to get a few laughs. The jokesemphasized his points, and balanced theseriousness of his speech. ―Now, when Congressman Ryan looked into that TV camera and attacked President Obama‘s Medicare savings as, quote, ‗the biggest, coldest power play,‘ I didn‘t know whether to laugh or cry.‖ ―You got to give one thing: It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.‖
―Now you‘re having a good time, but this is getting serious, and I want you to listen.‖ ―Listen to me, now. No president — no president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years.‖ ―So here‘s another job score. Are you listening in Michigan and Ohio and across the country?‖ ―And listen to this. Listen to this. … Now, finally, listen to this.‖ Instructional language Clinton often instructed viewers to listen to what he was saying. Instructional language is especially effective on TV when people might be distracted and in longer speeches because it helps redirect our attention if it‘s been diverted. (Clinton‘s speech, by the way, was nearly 6,000 words long.)
―Now, look. Here‘s the challenge he faces and the challenge all of you who support him face.‖ ―So the president‘s student loan reform is more important than ever. Here‘s what it does – here‘s what it does.‖ ―Let‘s take a look at what‘s actually happened so far, when talking about healthcare.‖ ―Now what does this mean? What does this mean? Think of it. It means no one will ever have to drop out of college again for fear they can‘t repay their debt.‖ ―Look, here‘s what really happened. You be the judge. Here‘s what really happened.‖ Explanatory language Like good explanatory journalism, Clinton‘s speech made complicated subject matters easy to understand. He was conversational when talking about issues such as health care reform, and used the phrases ―here‘s what it does‖ and ―here‘s what really happened.‖
Questions and answers Clinton didn‘t just pose questions; he answered them. And like a good journalist, he asked a lot of ―why‖ questions. His answers conveyed confidence and hope. ―Now, why is this true? Why does cooperation work better than constant conflict? Because nobody‘s right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day.‖ ―Now, why do I believe it? I‘m fixing to tell you why. I believe it because…‖ ―Are we better off because President Obama fought for health care reform? You bet we are.‖
The endStrong writing ties together beginnings and ends. Clintonbegan his speech with the refrain ―I want.‖ He ended it withthe same verb, but placed the emphasis on the Americanpeople: ―If you want America — if you want every American tovote and you think it is wrong to change voting procedures —just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority anddisabled voters — you should support Barack Obama.‖Similarly, at the beginning of his speech, Clinton said Obamais ―a man who burns for America on the inside.‖ At the end, hereturned to the fiery analogy, saying: ―We come through everyfire a little stronger and a little better.‖
Revising your speech Read your speech carefully. See if you have used rhetorical strategies like King or Clinton. Take some time to try to work these strategies into what you have written.
The Action StepThe final stage is the action step whenspeakers offer listeners a specificcourse of action to follow. King‘saction step occurs when he asks hisaudience to ―Let freedom ring,‖ and heuses the phrase at the end of thespeech focusing on eight statessymbolizing the whole nation.Revise (or write) your action step!
Speeches beginWednesday, December5th. Everyone should beprepared to go first. Homework Post #52: Speech writing: The Action Step: Refine and develop the “Action Step" in your speech. Offer listeners a specific course of action to follow. (Call to Action: Conclusion) Revise your speech to include several of Clintons rhetorical strategies. Work on speech presentation extras Study for vocabulary make up test.