Creative Scriptwriting and Copywriting

Start ’em young

In copywriting, scriptwriting, speechwriting on October 3, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Surprisingly little talk of speeches during this year’s party conferences, save for a flurry of (mostly petty and vindictive) press coverage about a precocious young lad doing his best.

I guess it takes one to know one: I haven’t been involved in the conference season, but in my own small way I have contributed my speechwriting experience to the next generation of political debate.

My nine year old has just run for Class Representative at his primary’s School Council. He had to make a speech and asked me to help. Here’s what we got. It’s all his own work, except for a little guidance from me

I think I should be School Council for Class 4 because I am good at talking to other people.

Obviously, he’s not going to be “School Council” as such, but he insisted that saying “your representative on the School Council” would make him sound odd. Good lesson in using the language of your audience.

In fact I love talking. So I’m confident about talking to adults and children, younger and older than me.

“I love talking” was mine. He talks too much in class. His electorate knows this. Let’s make a virtue of it.

(I love “I love”, as a phrase. If you mean it, there is nothing more powerful and direct. The copywriter’s cliché for the same sentiment is “I am passionate about…”, which is awful and never sounds honest.)

I would make good suggestions to change our school into a better place. We’re having lots of building work at the moment so we’ll have to get used to some of the changes like not having last break. If I was elected I would try and get us some play time in the afternoon.

I suggested changing “I’ll get us some play time in the afternoon” to “try and get us…” Under-promise and over-deliver.

On top of all this, I would listen to what you have to say and I will take your opinions into meetings. Just let me know if you have any suggestions.

But as well as just making Class 4 happy, I would listen to what other class reps have to say and to make the whole of [SCHOOL NAME] happy.

Those bits were all his. Very political, I thought – aspirational. “Ask not what your country can do for you” and all that.

I have been in School Council once before in Year 1 when I was a bit too young to understand what to do. But now, after being deputy for the last two years, I am confident that I will do the job well.

This was a tricky bit. He wanted to directly address what might be Achilles Heel – his previous experience. Would Class 4 respect his years of experience, or demand a fresh new broom? His initial thought was to say that his time as “School Council” in Year One didn’t really count as he never said anything. I thought that sounded unduly negative. But “a bit too young to understand” is humble and relatable. Don’t be scared to address the negative.

So, I am a good talker, I have good ideas and good experience. I was going to say ‘thumbs up for me’, but I sprained my hand playing football, but please vote for me.

The sum-up. Not just the rule of three to cover what he’s said already – good at this, good at that, good at the other – but a memorable visual to end on as he’s sporting a heavily-strapped thumb.

I must have forced that bit on him – I thought it would make him stand out (the equivalent to being the primary school war hero) – but he admitted that he skipped it when he gave the speech. That’s another good lesson – don’t write anything for your subject that they’re not happy to deliver. It’s the way towards fluffed jokes and embarrassed pauses.

Anyway, he won. By way of congratulations, I made sure I charged him a special discount day-rate.


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